John Libbey Eurotext

Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement


Medical drug abuse and aging Volume 11, issue 3, Septembre 2013


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Pôle d’addictologie en Limousin, Centre hospitalier Esquirol, Limoges, France, Pôle de psychiatrie adulte 23G01, Centre hospitalier La Valette, Saint-Vaury, France, Pôle universitaire de psychiatrie de l’adulte et de la personne âgée, Centre hospitalier Esquirol, Limoges, France, UMR/Inserm 1094 NET, Faculté de médecine, CHU de Limoges, France, Centre mémoire de ressources et de recherche du Limousin, Centre hospitalier Esquirol, Limoges, France

Drug addiction is often underestimated among the aged. Opiate drugs (mostly pain killers) are the most frequently implicated in drug addiction after benzodiazepines (BZD) in the aged. The subjects aged of 65 years or more are the most represented among the BZD users in France. Frequency of BZD use varies according to various studies from 39 to 55% in this age group. Leading a lonely life is associated with the use of psychotropic drugs among retired people (OR=1.7). Vulnerability at this age must take into account not only polypathology, but also the faster aging of a minority of the population under opiate drugs substitution treatment (OST), more subjects to drugs interaction. Drug addiction among elderly often reflects the drift of “lawful” doctor's instructions that leads to an increase in drugs use. The difficulty has to do with a lack of specificity of diagnosis of addiction at this age, but perhaps also with physicans’instructions in the aged. Some authors suggest that continued and prolonged use should be considered the main criterion for BZD addiction at this age, with or without increase in doses and failed attempt at cessation. Besides, the prescription of BZD increases after retirement and loneliness.