Alongside an ageing population we are seeing an increase in alcohol consumption in the over-50s age group, coupled with the use of prescribed medication and illicit drug use.
Older adults who have substance misuse problems do not receive the same attention as younger substance misusers, and generic services are increasingly having to deal with individuals who have multiple or complex needs.
The Welsh Government’s Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse’s February 2017 report on Substance Misuse in an Ageing Population included a number of recommendations. In terms of acknowledging older adults in substance misuse policy or strategy, Wales is ahead of its UK counterparts – but we know there is more to be done including tackling ageism and stigma in this increasing population.
New approaches to service provision are needed if we are to meet the challenges ahead of us together.