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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Dec 1;193:142-147. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 18.

A hidden aspect of the U.S. opioid crisis: Rise in first-time treatment admissions for older adults with opioid use disorder.

Author information

1
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: ahuhn1@jhu.edu.
2
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baltimore, MD, USA.
3
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baltimore, MD, USA; UCSF School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Older adults with opioid use disorder (OUD) are a medically complex population. The current study evaluated trends in older adults seeking treatment for OUD, with a focus on primary heroin versus prescription opioid use. This study also compared older adults with OUD to the younger OUD population on demographics and drug use behaviors.

METHODS:

Publicly available data from state-certified addiction treatment centers were collected via the Treatment Episode Data Set - Admissions (TEDS-A) between 2004-2015. This study utilized Joinpoint Regression to conduct a cross-sectional, longitudinal analysis of trends in first-time treatment admissions for OUD in adults 55 and older (older adults; n = 400,421) versus adults under the age of 55 (n = 7,795,839). Given the rapid increase in older adults seeking treatment for OUD between 2013-2015, secondary outcomes include changes in demographics and drug use between 2012 (as a baseline year) and 2015.

RESULTS:

The proportion of older adults seeking treatment for OUD rose steadily between 2004-2013 (41.2% increase; p-trend = 0.046), then rapidly between 2013-2015 (53.5% increase; p-trend = 0.009). The proportion of older adults with primary heroin use more than doubled between 2012-2015 (p < 0.001); these individuals were increasingly male (p < 0.001), African American (p < 0.001), and using via the intranasal route of administration (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

There has been a recent surge in older adults seeking treatment for OUD, particularly those with primary heroin use. Specialized treatment options for this population are critically needed, and capacity for tailored elder care OUD treatments will need to increase if these trends continue.

KEYWORDS:

Heroin; Older adults; Opioid use disorder; Prescription opioids; Treatment; Trend analysis

PMID:
30384321
PMCID:
PMC6242338
[Available on 2019-12-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.10.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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