Hospitalizations for Senior Drug Abuse Rose by 96% During Last Decade

The slogan ‘Just Say No to Drugs’ was originally aimed at young adult but the messaging may need to be delivered to the aging American population.  New information released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows that admission rates to hospitals doubled for medication and drug-related conditions that included prescription, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs.  The study looked at admissions from 1997 to 2008 and found that the rate of admissions for people 45- to 64-years old grew by 117% from 30,100 to over 65,000 during that time period.  Additionally, ages 65 to 84 closely followed, growing by 96 percent, and for people ages 85 and older, the rate grew by 87 percent. By comparison, the number of hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent.

"This report reveals a disturbing trend, and we need to find out more about why these admissions are increasing," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "As the average age of hospital patients continues to increase, so does the need for close monitoring of the types and dosages of drugs given to them."


The AHRQ report showed that Medicare and Medicaid were responsible for 57 percent of the $1.1 billion cost to hospitals in 2008 for treating patients with medication and drug-related conditions, private insurance covered 24 percent, and the uninsured accounted for 14 percent.

“Substance abuse is rising, and drug abuse of all kinds is exploding as a major public health concern for our country," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "The challenge for our health care practitioners is to see that patients receive medications when there is medical need but also to help prevent the adverse health consequences from drug use."

For the full details on the study’s finding about substance abuse visit, Hospital Care for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Conditions