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More older adults admitted for substance use disorder, new UConn study finds

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public Radio

A new study from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine found that more adults 55 and older are being admitted to treatment facilities for substance use disorder.

The number of older adults seeking treatment increased by 208% between 2000 and 2017. Cannabis and cocaine use accounted for much of the increase. The findings were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Researchers expect the numbers may have climbed during the years of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has negatively affected older adults, including alcohol consumption and cannabis use,” said Greg Rhee, a psychiatric epidemiologist and senior author of the study.

Rhee added that as the population of seniors continues to grow, there’s a corresponding need for substance use treatment.

“As a society as a whole, we need to be better prepared for an aging population to get better access to care,” Rhee said. “Age-sensitive care is needed and should be widely accessible across America.”

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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