Older Adult SUD Services

Substance Use (SU) Prevention and Treatment

Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS), Older Adult System of Care: The entire SUD System, last year served 7,395 total adult consumers, 750 were consumers over the age of 60. The following two Older Adult Programs served 49 consumers combined. This shows that the majority of older adults are being served within the adult system of care. Here is a brief description of the Older Adult specific SUD programs in ACBHCS. The ACBHCS Annual Report provides an overview of clients served in Alameda County including those who are sixty (60+) plus years old. (link PDF) “Alameda County Leads The Way” article provides relevant information about reducing the demand for prescription medications and safe disposal methods

Older Adult Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Standards of Practices and Workforce Development (page 92)


National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)

“The fact is, although alcohol and drug abuse is harmful at any age, it is never more harmful than on the elderly. The impact of alcohol- and drug-related injuries is much more severe, the risk of harmful medication interactions is much greater, and the general physical effects of alcohol and drugs are more debilitating. Some Dramatic Statistics:

  • There are 2.5 million older adults with an alcohol or drug problem.
  • Six to eleven percent of elderly hospital admissions are a result of alcohol or drug problems — 14 percent of elderly emergency room admissions, and 20 percent of elderly psychiatric hospital admissions.
  • Widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S.
  • Nearly 50 percent of nursing home residents have alcohol related problems.
  • Older adults are hospitalized as often for alcoholic related problems as for heart attacks.
  • Nearly 17 million prescriptions for tranquilizers are prescribed for older adults each year. Benzodiazepines, a type of tranquilizing drug, are the most commonly misused and abused prescription medications.
"Alcohol and drug problems, particularly prescription drug abuse, among older adults is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country. Yet, our awareness, understanding and response to this health care problem is inadequate.”

Seniors and Substance Abuse MJH
Older Adults & Substance Abuse Executive Summary
Prescription Drugs Programs and Disposal
Preventing Suicide – Toolkit for Senior Centers
Older Adult with Medication, Alcohol, and Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults Treatment Improvement Protocol|(TIP) 26: Offers practice guidelines for the identification, screening, assessment, and treatment of the elderly for alcohol abuse and abuse of prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs. Discusses outcomes and financial, ethical, and legal issues.

Reference and Resource Guide for Working with Hispanic/Latino Older Adults (link PDF) The impact of culture on substance abuse treatment and recovery cannot be overemphasized. Well informed counselors and clinicians understand that a client’s cultural background must be taken into account in the development of a treatment plan. This need can be even greater among older adult clients, as their attitudes and beliefs about health care are more likely to be those prevalent in their native countries.

SAMHSA has a Toolkit, “Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide Among Seniors”, to help address a misunderstood behavioral health issue among older adults — suicide. “There is a sense that depression is a normal part of aging and that there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Chris Miara, MS, senior project director for the SAMHSA-funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center. “But it’s really important to convey that it’s not a normal part of aging and that there are ways to help. A lot of older people can have a good quality of life if they can get the help they need.”

Alameda County Behavioral Health (ACBH) Older Adult Contacts:

Lillian Schaechner, LCSW; Older Adult System of Care Director
510-567-8194      lschaechner@acbhcs.org

Michael Kessler, LPCC, CRC, RMT; Program Specialist for the Older Adult System of Care
510-567-8128     Mobile: 510-414-2825     Fax: 888-861-3648     mkessler@acbhcs.org