Substance Use and Addiction

Alcohol Use Disorder

Benzodiazepine Use Disorder

Cannabis Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder

An older man in a collared shirt is smiling at the camera with a blurred out scene of a retirement residence in the background.

Substance Use and Addiction in Older Adults

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 affected 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 and community-oriented tools can be viewed by clicking the tabs above.

CCSMH also has also partnered with the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop a resource titled "Using Substances as an Older Adult" click here to read the full text.

Review Our Resources

Cover for the guidelines including logos and curved shapes.

Introduction to the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health Guidelines on Substance Use Disorders Among Older Adults

Guideline Development Methodology

In 2017, the CCSMH was awarded funding by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), to develop four sets of clinical guidelines on the prevention, screening, assessment, and treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Use Disorder (BUD), Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in older adults. This document outlines the methodology that was followed in the development of these four clinical guidelines.

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