Assessment of Policies and Methodologies
targeting the Needs of
ageing Drug Users in the EU

Christina Padberg, Heino Stöver
ISFF – Institut für Suchtforschung/Institute for Addiction Research at
the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences


March 2018

The public but also professional discourse about dependency of psychoactive substances is still associated with young people. However, the total number and the proportion of older chronic and problem drug users in Europe have increased significantly over the past decades.

Problem drug use is defined as “injecting drug use or long-duration / regular use of opiates, cocaine and / or amphetamines” (EMCDDA 2009). This group is likely to suffer significantly from the negative social and health consequences of decades of drug use. Studies report that ageing and older drug users are often socially excluded and isolated from their friends, social networks and families (Cassar et al. 2009; Nezet et al. 2009).

Elderly drug users are considered those aged above 40 years whose recurrent use of psychoactive “[…] substances is causing them harm or is placing them at a high risk of such harm. They are likely to encounter negative life outcomes due to their drug use and they have characteristics and trajectories distinct from those of their younger counterparts” (Johnston et al. 2017). It remains outside for how many years the person has been taking drugs.




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