Treatment Use, Perceived Need, and Barriers to Seeking Treatment for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems among Older Adults Compared to Younger Adults
Namkee G. Choi, Diana M. DiNitto, C. Nathan Marti
Drug and Alcohol Dependence
16 October 2014
•The 50-64 age group was more similar to the younger age groups than to the 65+ age group with respect to SUD and MH treatment use and perceived treatment need.
•The lack of readiness to stop using was the most frequently mentioned barrier to accessing SUD treatment among the 65+ group.
•Treatment cost/limited insurance was the most frequently mentioned barrier to accessing MH treatment among younger age groups.
This study examined age group differences in and correlates of treatment use and perceived treatment need for substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health (MH) problems as well as self-reported barriers to treatment among people 65+ years old versus 26-34, 35-49, and 50-64 years old.
Data are from the 2008 to 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (N = 96,966). Age group differences were examined using descriptive bivariate analyses and binary logistic regression analyses.
The 65+ age group was least likely to use treatment and perceive treatment need, but the 50-64 age group was more similar to the younger age groups than the 65+ age group. Controlling for age, other predisposing, and enabling factors, alcohol and illicit drug dependence and comorbid SUD and MH problems increased the odds of SUD treatment use. Of MH problems, anxiety disorder had the largest odds for MH treatment use. Bivariate analyses showed that lack of readiness to stop using and cost/limited insurance were the most frequent barriers to SUD and MH treatment, respectively, among older adults, and they were less likely than younger age groups to report stigma/confidentiality concerns for MH treatment.
Older adults will become a larger portion of the total U.S. population with SUD and/or MH problems. Healthcare providers should be alert to the need to help older adults with SUD and/or MH problems obtain treatment.