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Substance Use Among Older Adults



While illicit drug use tends to decrease after young adulthood, nearly 1 million adults aged 65 and older were reported to have a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2018. Over the years 2000 to 2012, admissions for SUD treatment among older adults rose from 3.4% to 7.0%.

Impact of Alcohol and Drugs

Aging can lead to physical and social changes that may heighten susceptibility to substance misuse. Older adults metabolize substances more slowly and may be more sensitive to their effects. Studies suggest that those who were addicted to drugs in their youth may experience accelerated age-related brain decline.

Health Risks

Older adults are more prone to mood disorders, lung and heart problems, and memory issues, which can be exacerbated by drug use. Drugs that impair judgment and coordination also increase the risk of accidents, which can have more severe health implications and longer recovery times in older adults.

Resources for Older Adults


Weekly Activities Provided by the Dedham Council on Aging

Looking for something to do or want to get a loved one out of the house? Check out the weekly activities provided by the Dedham Council on Aging.

Helplines and Crisis Support
  • Helpline for Treatment Services: Call 800.327.5050 to talk with a trained Helpline Specialist, text 800327, or use the live chat feature on this site.

  • Crisis Support: If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, call or text 988 or visit

  • Mental Health and Substance Use Support: Visit to learn how to get support or locate treatment facilities. You can also call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).

Equitable Care for LGBTQ+ Older Adults:

Watch a video on providing affirming care to LGBTQ+ older adults.

Toolkits for Senior Centers and Senior Living Communities

"Explore How Alcohol and Drugs Impact Aging. Learn About Risks and Resources. Download Now

Descubre cómo afectan el alcohol y las drogas a medida que envejecemos. Conoce los riesgos de las interacciones con medicamentos. ¡Descarga ahora y encuentra recursos adicionales!

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