Scottish Drugs Forum Report – Older People with Drug Problems in Scotland: Addressing the needs of an ageing population

On the 26th June, Scottish Drugs Forum launched the final report of an expert group on the challenges Scotland faces in responding to the needs of some of its most vulnerable citizens – the growing population of older people who have drug problems.

The report, entitled ‘Older People with Drug Problems in Scotland: Addressing the Needs of an Ageing Population’ looks at the needs of people with drug problems who are 35 years and over and highlights the increasing number in their 50s and 60s.

Older people with drug problems face significant health issues including the effects of premature ageing and the complex causes and results of their drug use.

The Expert Working Group on Older People with a Drug Problem has spent over two years looking at evidence, commissioning research and hearing from testimony from experts including older drug users themselves.

The report’s key findings include:
• That older people with drug problems will increasingly become the norm within services and services need to adapt to better meet the needs of this population – both specialist and non- specialist
• This group have a range of complex needs, including being very isolated and experience significant underlying physical and mental health problems
• They are not engaging well with existing services and tend to drop out of services on a regular basis
• This group is at high risk of fatal overdose and dying of other causes if they are not retained in care
• There is significant and increasing cost to the health service.

Scottish Drugs Forum have also published a companion report, which informed the Expert Working Group on Older People with a Drug Problem’s report which is entitled ‘Older People with Drug Problems in Scotland: A Mixed Methods Study Exploring Health and Social Support Needs’

The report has already attracted some media attention and will feature on BBC Scotland news programmes, including this evening’s Reporting Scotland (available subsequently on i-Player).

SDF will continue to work on this issue and asks other stakeholders including SDF members to work with us to improve Scotland’s response to problem drug use amongst this vulnerable group.

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