Deakin University

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An Ageing Methadone Population: A Challenge to Aged Persons' Mental Health Services?

journal contribution
posted on 2015-11-02, 00:00 authored by Adam SearbyAdam Searby, P Maude, I McGrath
Oral administration of methadone has been used as a treatment strategy for opiate addiction for many years. The state of Victoria, Australia, has a long-running methadone program with a large number of participants. Accordingly, a growing number of adults have utilised methadone maintenance treatment for a number of years and are nowmoving into older age due to advances in medical treatment and harm reduction initiatives. The objective of this review is to examine the literature pertaining to co-occurring mental illness in older methadone treatment participants and to explore the future challenges this growing cohort of ageing adults pose to aged persons' psychiatry services. As part of a broader study into dual diagnosis in older adults, a search of the Scopus, ProQuest, and CINAHL journal databases was performed. Twenty abstracts from literature published within the previous 15 years (1999-2014) were identified that explored methadone maintenance programs and the older adults maintained on them. A number of researchers have identified the ageingmethadone population to have a high degree of comorbid mental illness and psychological distress. Studies also indicate that individuals enrolled in methadone maintenance programsmay engage in a degree of continual substance use, potentially leading to deleterious effects on their psychosocial function. An ageing methadone population experiencing a high degree of comorbid mental illness is likely to challenge aged persons' psychiatry services. These services are likely to be increasingly called on to manage these individuals, particularly within Victoria where few substance use services exist for those over the age of 65. It is essential that aged persons' psychiatry services prepare to provide care for these individuals in a responsive manner that is inclusive of both their mental health and substitution pharmacotherapy.



Issues in Mental Health Nursing






927 - 931





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal