New report calls for action to respond to the needs of older drug users

Today (23rd June 2017), Scottish Drugs Forum launches the final report of an expert group on the challenges Scotland faces in responding to the needs of some of its most vulnerable citizens – the growing population of older drug users.

The report, entitled ‘Older People with Drug Problems in Scotland: Addressing the Needs of an Ageing Population’ looks at the needs of people with drug problems who are 35 years and over and highlights the increasing number in their 50s and 60s.

Older people with drug problems face significant health issues including the effects of premature ageing and the complex causes and results of their drug use.

The Expert Working Group on Older People with a Drug Problem has spent over two years looking at evidence, commissioning research and hearing from testimony from experts across the UK.

The report’s key findings include the following:

  • That older people with drug problems will increasingly become the norm within services and services need to adapt to better meet the needs of this population – both specialist and non- specialist.
  • This group have a range of complex needs, including being very isolated and experience significant underlying physical and mental health problems.
  • They are not engaging well with existing services are tend to drop out of services on a regular basis.
  • This group is at high risk of fatal overdose and dying of other causes if they are not retained in care.
  • There is significant and increasing cost to the health service.

Scottish Drugs Forum have also published a companion report on the 23rd of June, which informed the Expert Working Group on Older People with a Drug Problem’s report which is entitled ‘Older People with Drug Problems in Scotland: A Mixed Methods Study Exploring Health and Social Support Needs’