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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1987 Apr;35(4):297-301.

Unrecognized drug dependence in psychiatrically hospitalized elderly patients.


The psychiatric in-patient records of 90 patients greater than or equal to 65 years of age were reviewed retrospectively to determine the prevalence of chemical dependence and if lack of recognition and treatment of chemical dependence resulted in serious complications. Nineteen of the 90 patients were characterized as drug dependent and ten of these patients were neither recognized nor detoxified. Seven of the ten nondetoxified patients, but only one of the nine detoxified patients, experienced serious medical complications typically requiring transfer to a medical floor or medical intensive care unit. Unrecognized chemically-dependent patients were significantly more likely to be female benzodiazepine abusers, while recognized chemically dependent patients were significantly more likely to be male alcohol abusers.

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