Functional impairments associated with the non-medical use of psychoactive drugs in the elderly

According to the results of a cross-sectional study published in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Data from the National Drug Use and Health Survey from 2015 to 2019 were analyzed for this study. Adults (N = 43,867) aged ≥ 50 years were asked about their use of cannabis and psychoactive drugs.

People with disabilities were more likely to report medical use of cannabis (2.5% vs. 0.9%; odds ratio adjusted [aOR], 2.28; 95% CI, 1.57-3.30), prescription opioids (51.2% vs 30.1%; ORa, 2.23; 95% CI, 2.09-2.38) and prescription tranquilizers or sedatives (32.2% vs 16.9%; ORa, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.88-2.17) as well as non-medical use of opioids (3.8% versus 2.0%; aOR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.38-1.91) and tranquilizers or sedatives (2.2% versus 1.2%; aOR, 1.59; 95%, 1.20-2.11).


Continue reading

Non-medical use and possible misuse increased with the number of disabilities (P <.001>

Among cannabis users, medical use was associated with impaired thinking (aOR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.22-2.56) and walking (aOR, 1.74; 95% CI, 95%, 1.20-2.51). Non-medical use was associated with thought disturbances (aOR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.06-1.54). People who had difficulty running errands were less likely to report nonmedical cannabis use (aOR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.69-0.97).

For opioids, people walking (aOR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.98-2.31), dressing (aOR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.10-1.40 ), thinking (aOR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.09-1.32), and running (aOR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.01-1.21) were associated with medical use and individuals thinking (aOR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.15-1.83) and shopping (aOR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.01 – 1.78) impairments were associated with non-medical use.

Medical use of tranquilizers or sedatives was associated with thinking (aOR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.51-1.88), walking (aOR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.40-1.67) and shopping (aOR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.07-1.52) and, for non-medical use, thought disorders (aOR, 1.88 95% CI, 1.27-2.78).

The study had some limitations. It is still unclear to what extent individuals had functional limitations and all use was self-reported.

These data indicate that adults with disabilities may be at risk for misuse of opioids, tranquilizers and sedatives.

Reference

Han BH, Le A, Funk-White M, Palamar JJ. Cannabis and prescription drug use among older adults with functional impairment. Am J Prev Med. Published online May 20, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2021.01.042

Alvin J. Chase