Drug overdose deaths among US seniors have quadrupled in 20 years, research finds

Overdose mortality amongst folks 65 and older quadrupled in 20 years, suggesting a necessity for elevated psychological well being and substance use dysfunction insurance policies geared toward curbing the pattern, a brand new analysis paper finds.

The deaths have been resulting from each suicides and unintentional overdoses, with almost three-quarters of the unintentional deaths involving illicit medicine comparable to artificial opioids comparable to fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Prescription opioids, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antiepileptics, and sedatives have been utilized in 67% of intentional overdoses.

“The dramatic enhance in overdose deaths amongst adults age 65 and older over the previous twenty years underscores how vital it’s for clinicians and policymakers to think about overdose as a lifelong downside,” mentioned co-author Chelsea Shover, an assistant professor of medication within the division of basic inner medication and well being companies analysis on the David Geffen Faculty of Drugs at UCLA. “Updating Medicare to cowl evidence-based remedy for substance use problems is essential, as is offering hurt discount provides like naloxone to older adults.”

The article will likely be revealed on March 29 in JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers used the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s WONDER (Marvel) database to estimate annual overdose deaths amongst seniors between 2002 and 2021, evaluating demographics, particular drugs, and whether or not deaths have been intentional, unintentional, or undetermined.

Total, they discovered that deadly overdoses quadrupled from 1,060 in 2002 (3 per 100,000) to six,702 (12 per 100,000) in 2021. The best charges have been amongst blacks, at 30.9 per 100,000.

Among the many different findings:

  • By 2021, 1 in 370 older grownup deaths have been resulting from overdose, of which 3,814 (57%) concerned opioids, 2,587 (39%) stimulants, and 1,204 (18%) a mix of each
  • About 13% (882) of overdoses in 2021 have been intentional, 83% (5,541) have been unintentional, 4% (274) have been undetermined, and 5 (0.07%) have been homicides
  • Girls accounted for 505,489 of 882 (57%) of intentional overdoses and 1,594 of 5,541 (29%) of unintentional overdoses
  • Intentionality differed by race and ethnicity: 31 of 83, or 37%, of overdoses amongst Asians have been intentional, in contrast with 805 of 4,848 (17%) amongst Whites and 15 of 1,665 (1%) among the many blacks
  • Alcohol poisoning deaths elevated from 10 (lower than 0.03 per 100,000) to 281 (0.5 per 100,000)

“Though drug overdose stays a uncommon reason behind dying amongst older adults within the US, the quadrupling of deadly overdoses amongst older adults must be thought-about in evolving insurance policies centered on the overdose epidemic” the researchers write. “Present proposals to enhance protection of psychological well being and substance use problems beneath Medicare, comparable to imposing psychological well being parity guidelines inside Medicare, tackle added urgency in mild of the outcomes of this examine.”

Keith Humphreys of Stanford College and the Palo Alto Well being Care System for Veterans Affairs co-authored the examine.

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