Substance use disorder among older adults in the United States in 2020

Addiction. 2009 Jan;104(1):88-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02411.x.


Aims: This study aimed to project the number of people aged 50 years or older with substance use disorder (alcohol/illicit drug dependence or abuse) in the United States in 2020.

Design: Logistic regression models were applied to estimate parameters predicting past-year substance use disorder using the 2002-06 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data. We applied these parameters to the projected US 2020 population to estimate the number of adults aged 50 or older with substance use disorder in 2020.

Setting: Non-institutionalized US residences.

Participants: Representative sample of the US civilian, non-institutionalized population.

Measurements: Substance use disorder is classified based on criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition.

Findings: Due to the large population size and high substance use rate of the baby-boom cohort, the number of adults aged 50 or older with substance use disorder is projected to double from 2.8 million (annual average) in 2002-06 to 5.7 million in 2020. Increases are projected for all examined gender, race/ethnicity and age groups.

Conclusions: Our estimates provide critical information for policymakers to allocate resources and develop prevention and treatment approaches to address future needs of the US older adult population with substance use disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Forecasting*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / economics
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / economics
  • Mental Health Services / trends*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / economics
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / trends*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology