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

Andrew Huhn, Eric C Strain, D. Andrew Tompkins, Kelly Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-147
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume193
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018

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Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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