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SAMHSA News - May/June 2005, Volume 13, Number 3

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 pain relievers.

Celebrate Long-Term Living! logo
This year's theme for Older Americans Month is "Celebrate Long-Term Living!"

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 SAMHSA 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 period.

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 (TDD).

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.htmEnd of Article

photo of pen and prescription with the message, "Do the Right Dose"
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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Inside This Issue

Helping Iraq Restore Its Mental Health System
Part 1
Part 2
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SAMHSA, FDA Launch Campaign for Older Adults

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SAMHSA Participates in Disaster Response Exercise

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Trends Marks a New Start in Mental Health

2005 Recovery Month Kit Now Online

Two New Brochures for Victims of Crime

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SAMHSA News

SAMHSA News - May/June 2005, Volume 13, Number 3




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