Substance Use and Addiction

Substance misuse and dependency among older adults is a growing but neglected issue. With many older adults taking sometimes complicated regimens of multiple prescribed medications each day, substance misuse is common.

Because of physiological changes, older adults are much more vulnerable to the negative effects of substance use and misuse.  Alcohol, cannabis and medications commonly given to older adults to manage pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and depression can have a negative effect on the cognition, emotions and physical health of older adults.

Misuse, dependency and addiction of substances among seniors is often associated with other mental illnesses including depression, and generalized anxiety disorder and can be effected by psychosocial issues often experienced by older adults such as loneliness, bereavement and the existence of chronic illness and/or disability.

In the summer of 2017, the CCSMH embarked on a 3-year project leading and facilitating the development of clinical guidelines and community-oriented tools addressing the use of Alcohol, Cannabis, Benzodiazepine and Opioid among seniors. Resulting Clinical Guidelines will be published in 2019 with Community-oriented tools being finalized in 2019-2020.