Overview of Alcohol and Drug Related Issues in Pinellas County Older Adults
According to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, in 2009 in Pinellas County, there were roughly 396,523 elder adults ages 60 plus, representing 28.5% of the total population. 120,352 (30.4%) of adults over the age of 60 had at least one type of disability. 33,154 elder adults lived below the poverty line. Among elder adults ages 65 plus, 47,988 persons were medically underserved.
According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey System, in 2007 in Pinellas County, 4.8% of elder adults reported heavy or binge drinking.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern in the older adult population nationwide. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “persons 65 years of age and above comprise only 13 percent of the population, yet account for approximately one-third of all medications prescribed in the United States. Older patients are more likely to be prescribed long-term and multiple prescriptions, which could lead to unintentional misuse. The elderly also are at risk for prescription drug abuse, in which they intentionally take medications that are not medically necessary.”
In 2012, alcohol was detected in 360 cases where toxicology was performed by the District 6 Medical Examiner. In Pinellas County in 2010, among the 60 years of age or more population, alcohol was detected in 29 older adults by the Medical Examiner. Cocaine was detected in 2 older adults. Alprazolam was detected in 7 older adults. Oxycodone was detected in 9 older adults. Methadone was detected in 2 older adults (2010, District 6 Medical Examiner).
The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) reported that in 2008, there were 281 alcohol-related admissions for older adults to Pinellas County Emergency Rooms.
In the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 fiscal years in Circuits 6 (Pinellas and Pasco Counties), 12 (DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties) and 13 (Hillsborough County), 115 older adults ages 50 plus were waitlisted for substance abuse treatment services (Central Florida Behavioral Health Network).