Canadian healthcare providers now have the tools they need to better support the prevention, assessment and treatment of older adults at risk of, or living with, substance use-disorders. The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH) has officially launched today separate sets of Clinical Guidelines on Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults.
The presence of these disorders among older adults has been described as an “invisible epidemic” with special emphasis on the high risk for the aging baby boomer generation. The Guidelines, developed to provide healthcare providers with useful guidance on alcohol, benzodiazepine, cannabis and opioid use disorders among older adults are now available online at www.ccsmh.ca.
“One in seven seniors has experienced a substance use disorder in their lifetime,” said Federal Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte.
“The first-ever national guidelines will help us provide better care to Canadian seniors, as well as their families and caregivers, with valuable information that will enable them to make the best decision for their health. This is an important step forward in serving the healthcare needs of Canadian seniors.”
The development of each clinical guideline document was led by national working groups comprising clinical and academic experts from the fields of seniors’ mental health, geriatrics, and substance use and addictions. Each working group included a person whose life has been directly impacted by a substance-use disorder.
The guidelines reflect the fact that older adults are much more vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of these substances and that most individuals are also taking a variety of prescribed medications and over-the-counter products which can result in dangerous interactions.
“The clinical recommendations made in each of these guideline documents were developed following a rigorous process including a thorough review and analysis of all relevant literature and a careful grading of both the quality of that evidence and the strength of each recommendation” says Dr. David Conn, project lead, Co-Chair of the CCSMH and Vice-President of Education at Baycrest.
He emphasizes that “we are very hopeful these guidelines will lead to the prevention of substance-related problems as well as to improved services for older adults who have developed a substance use disorder”.