260106 Substance use as coping behavior in older adults: Associations with self-rated health in the Health and Retirement Study

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pia M. Mauro , Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Sarah Canham, PhD , Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Silvia S. Martins, MD, PhD , Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Adam Spira, PhD , Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: With the aging of the American population, there is increased concern about substance abuse in older adults. By 2025, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 63.9 million adults will be age 65 and older. However, predictors of maladaptive substance use in older adults have been understudied. We investigated the association between self-rated health and use of alcohol and drugs to cope with stress in community-dwelling older adults. Methods: We studied 1,352 participants in the 2008 wave of the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. Our primary predictor was self-reported health status, and outcomes were: (1) alcohol use; and (2) prescription or other drug use as methods of coping with stress. Results: On average, participants were 67.3 0.3 years old; 54.5% were women and 87.8% were Caucasian. Approximately 10% reported using prescription or other drugs to cope with stress very often, fairly often, or not too often vs. hardly ever or never, and 11% reported using alcohol for that purpose. Adjusted for age and gender, those with poor or fair health had 4.20 (95% CI: 2.66-6.64) times the odds of using prescription or other drugs to cope with stress and 0.30 (95% CI: 0.16-0.57) the odds of using alcohol to cope, compared to those with good, very good, or excellent health. Conclusions: Results suggest that worse self-rated health is associated with increased risk of drug use and decreased risk of alcohol use to cope with stress. Longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the directions of these associations.

Learning Areas:
Epidemiology
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the association between self-rated health and use of alcohol to cope with stress among older adults. Identify the association between self-rated health and use of drugs to cope with stress among elders.

Keywords: Drug Use, Elderly

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a pre-doctoral student and a NIDA-funded Drug Dependence Epidemiology fellow. My research interests include substance abuse epidemiology, psychiatric comorbidity, and health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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