SAMHSA, FDA Launch Campaign for Older Adults
SAMHSA celebrated Older Americans Month in May by joining with the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a campaign to encourage
older adults to take special care when using prescription
year's theme for Older Americans Month is "Celebrate
The campaign, "Do the Right Dose," comes just
in time. A recent SAMHSA report showed a 32-percent rise
in admissions for substance abuse treatment among older
adults (age 55 and older) over the 8-year period from
1995 to 2002.
SAMHSA released a new report, Older
Adults in Substance Abuse Treatment: Update,
which found that the percent of older adults with opiates
as their primary substance of abuse increased from 6.8
percent to 12 percent in this time period. Opiates include
prescription pain medications and heroin, and they are
the second most frequent reason for treatment admissions
among older adults, after alcohol.
To counter the upward trend in the abuse of opiates,
SAMHSA and the FDA are sponsoring campaign advertising
that includes print ads, television and radio public
service announcements (PSAs), and posters. SAMHSA also
updated the Agency brochure As You Age. (See
News, May/June 2004.)
The brochure emphasizes that prescription pain medications
are safe and effective when used correctly, but if misused,
could lead to addiction or other problems.
"We are only beginning to realize the pervasiveness
of substance abuse among older adults," said SAMHSA
Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. “We
have made older adults a priority at SAMHSA.
The "Do the Right Dose" campaign also has
the support of the Administration on Aging, which works
to warn older adults that medicine must be taken appropriately.
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More Data and Statistics
According to the SAMHSA report from the Office of Applied
Studies' (OAS) Treatment Episode Data Set, alcohol is
still the primary substance of abuse among older adults.
But the proportion of older admissions reporting alcohol
as their primary substance declined from 86.5 percent
in 1995 to 77.5 percent in 2002. Drug admissions among
persons age 55 and older increased by 106 percent for
men and 119 percent for women between 1995 and 2002.
The report shows that between 1995 and 2002 the number
of substance abuse treatment admissions among persons
age 55 and older increased by 32 percent. In 2002, 66,500
admissions age 55 or older were admitted to substance
abuse treatment facilities in the United States compared
to 50,200 in 1995. This increase outpaced the total treatment
population increase of 12 percent during the same time
For a print copy of the report, contact SAMHSA's National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)
at P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847-2345. Telephone:
1 (800) 729-6686 (English and Spanish) or 1 (800) 487-4889
The As You Age brochure is also available from
NCADI. Posters, print PSAs, and other campaign materials
are available online at www.asyouage.samhsa.gov/dotherightdose.
For additional data on older adults, visit SAMHSA's
Web site at www.oas.samhsa.gov/aging.htm.
|The message to older adults from the new SAMHSA/FDA campaign is clear: Take your prescription as directed. To get answers about your pain reliever, call your doctor. For information about addictions, call 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357).
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