J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2005 Jun;9(1):32-36.

Alcohol and Substance-Related Disorders in the Elderly

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Eulji University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jej1303@eulji.or.kr


Alcohol and substance related disorder in the elderly should be understood considering the physical, psychological and social characteristics of senile patients. In the elderly, alcohol, prescription drugs and over the counter drugs could be abused and cause a lot of serious physical and/or mental problems. Alcohol and substance related problems in the elderly are different in clinical manifestations and easily missed. Abuse of prescription drugs is more common in the elderly and the long acting benzodiazepines could cause problems. Benzodiazepine is one of the most abused drug prescribed by physicians because of treatment of insomnia, anxiety and even depression. Over the counter drug is commonly abused in the elderly and it is troublesome if there are drug interactions between these drugs and alcohol or other prescription drugs. Comprehensive approach including pharmacotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy would be helpful for the senile patients. There are unique difficulties based on characteristics of elderly for treatment of the patients with alcohol and substance related disorders. More efforts to develop resources for the better mental health for the elderly in community and more researches on alcohol and substance use disorder for the elderly are required.


Alcohol; Substance; Benzodiazepine; Elderly; Abuse; Dependence
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