Late Onset of Prescription Drug Abuse or Dependence Among Older Adults: Implications for Treatment

  • Kathy Lay
  • Lucy J. King
Keywords: Addiction and the aged, sedative abuse, sedative dependence, opiate dependence, opiate abuse, dependence


Prescription drug abuse and dependence is an increasing concern for older adults. This article describes issues specific to older adults with late onset abuse or dependence on prescription sedatives and/or opiates.The older adult with late onset should not be viewed as having the same issues as individuals who have a life pat- tern of drug and alcohol abuse/dependence.A chart review of older adults in a treatment program contrasts late onset prescription dependence clients (n=12) and early onset addiction clients (n=104) and outlines differences and similarities between the two samples. Social workers need to understand the specific and changing needs of older adults as they relate to assessment and treatment of drug abuse and dependence.