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SAMHSA News - January/February 2007, Volume 15, Number 1


Older Americans
Substance Abuse & Mental Health
Technical Assistance Center

More than one-quarter (26 percent) of older Americans have significant mental disorders like depression, anxiety, or dementia, according to a report prepared for SAMHSA’s Older Americans Substance Abuse and Mental Health Technical Assistance Center, which is funded by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

The 2005 publication, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Among Older Americans: The State of the Knowledge and Future Directions, reports that up to 19 percent of older adults have problems with misuse of alcohol or prescription medications. And they have the highest suicide rate of any age group. Yet older people often don’t get the mental health or substance abuse treatment they need.

SAMHSA’s center is working to change that. “The mental health and substance abuse needs of older adults are unique,” explained Jennifer Solomon, M.A., CSAP Project Officer for the center. “With the first of the baby boomers turning 65 soon, the demand for such services will only increase.”

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The Center’s Role . . .

Established in 2004, the center has a dual role. It provides basic information and statistics on older adults, and it offers technical assistance to state and local governments, treatment providers, and anyone else interested in preventing and treating mental health and substance abuse problems in this population.

One of the center’s priorities is to help states ensure that their mental health and substance abuse plans address older residents’ needs. The center also identifies and spreads the word about evidence-based practices and provides needed training.

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Publications . . .

The center’s publications include:

To contact SAMHSA’s Older Americans Substance Abuse and Mental Health Technical Assistance Center, call 1 (888) 281-8010. Online, visit the SAMHSA Web site at www.samhsa.gov/olderadultstac.

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