Department of Justice and Human Services
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Very little is known about the impact of age and gender on drug abuse treatment needs. To examine this, we recruited 2,573 opioid-dependent patients, aged from 18 to 75 years, entering treatment across the country from 2008 to 2010 to complete a self-administered survey examining drug use histories and the extent of comorbid psychiatric and physical disorders. Moderate to very severe pain and psychiatric disorders, including polysubstance abuse, were present in a significant fraction of 18- to 24-year-olds, but their severity grew exponentially as a function of age: 75% of those older than 45 years had debilitating pain and psychiatric problems. Women had more pain than men and much worse psychiatric issues in all age groups. Our results indicate that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to prevention, intervention, and treatment of opioid abuse that ignores the shifting needs of opioid-abusing men and women as they age is destined to fail.
Cicero, T. J., Surratt, H. L., Kurtz, S. P., Ellis, M., & Inciardi, J. (2012). Patterns of Prescription Opioid Abuse and Comorbidity in an Aging Treatment Population. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 42 (1), 87-94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2011.07.003