Other substance problems in older adults

Abuse of prescribed narcotic analgesics by elderly people appears to be uncommon unless the patient was an opioid abuser when younger. Elderly people who become dependent on prescribed narcotics tend to have high levels of psychopathology. (29) Use of illicit drugs is uncommon among elderly people, and illicit drug use disorders in the general elderly population are rare. However, use of over-the-counter preparations by elderly people is common. (30) There is a potential for medical and behavioural problems from habitual overuse of many available nostrums, especially those with sedative, anticholinergic, sympathomimetic, and anti-inflammatory effects, and these effects may be additive to prescribed medications and, in some instances, the effects of alcohol. Chronic salicylate toxicity increases with age and may produce a dementia-like syndrome associated with tinnitus and irritability. Consequences of habitual use of other over-the-counter drugs by elderly people are not well documented.

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