Elderly substance abuse: an integrative review

Ana Diniz, Sandra Pillon, Sara Monteiro, Anabela Pereira, Joana Gonçalves, Manoel Antônio dos Santos


This paper is an integrative literature review that analyzes the scientific production of psychoactive substances use, as well as the demographic and clinical characteristics of elderly that use psychoactive substances. The systematic research was performed in Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Academic Search Premier, PubMed, and ScienceDirect databases. Considering the criteria for inclusion and exclusion, 13 studies were selected without restriction to a period The elderly are mainly characterized for being men with low levels of education and income, unemployed, single and living alone. The elderly present organic and psychological comorbidities. Alcohol is the most common drug used by people this age, followed by the abuse of medication, however, the use of illicit substances is increasing. Although evidence is limited, studies indicate lower rates of high-risk behaviors to elderly’s health. Literature is consensual about the need for more studies in order to fill the knowledge gaps and to facilitate the identification of these users.

Keywords: elderly; drug users; substance-related disorders; prescription drug misuse; evidence-based practice.

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ISSN 1980-6906 (on-line)