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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
9-Sep-2010

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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley

Aging drug users are increasing and facing chronic physical and mental health problems

Health and social services are facing a new challenge, as many illicit drug users get older and face chronic health problems and a reduced quality of life. That is one of the key findings of research published in the September issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

UK researchers interviewed eleven people aged 49 to 61 in contact with voluntary sector drug treatment services.

"This exploratory study, together with our wider research, suggest that older people who continue to use problematic or illegal drugs are emerging as an important, but relatively under-researched, international population" says lead author Brenda Roe, Professor of Health Research at Edge Hill University, UK.

"They are a vulnerable group, as their continued drug use, addiction and life experiences result in impaired health, chronic conditions, particular health needs and poorer quality of life. Despite this, services for older drug addicts are not widely available or accessed in the UK."

Figures from the USA suggest that the number of people over 50 seeking help for drug or alcohol problems will have risen from 1.7 million in 2000 to 4.4 million by 2020. And the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates that the number of people aged 65 and over requiring treatment in Europe will double over the same period.

The nine men and two women who took part in the study had an average age of 57. All were currently single and their homes ranged from a caravan, hostel or care home to social housing.

Key findings from the study - by the Evidence-based Practice Research Centre at Edge Hill University and the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University - included:

"Our population is ageing and the people who started using drugs in the sixties are now reaching retirement age" says Professor Roe.

"It is clear that further research is needed to enable health and social care professionals to develop appropriate services for this increasingly vulnerable group. We also feel that older drug users could play a key role in educating younger people about the dangers of drug use."

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The article can be viewed free online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05378.x/pdf

Notes to editors

Experiences of drug use and ageing: health, quality of life, relationship and service implications. Roe et al. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 66(9) pp1968-1979. (September 2010). DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05378.x

The Journal of Advanced Nursing (JAN) is an international, peer-reviewed, scientific journal. JAN contributes to the advancement of evidence-based nursing, midwifery and healthcare by disseminating high quality research and scholarship of contemporary relevance and with potential to advance knowledge for practice, education, management or policy. www.journalofadvancednursing.com

Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world's leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com/ or our new online platform, Wiley Online Library (www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/), one of the world's most extensive multidisciplinary collections of online resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences, and humanities.



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