Past Free Webcast – Gray Matters: Understanding Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults – January 19th, 2022

Earn 1.5 hrs CEU, pre-approved for Social Workers by BOSW; self-submit other disciplines.
MGS is an approved Continuing Education Resource by the MN Board of Nursing.
(The CEU is free for MGS members; $15 for non-members.)

Presenter: Kay King – National Alliance on Mental Illness of MN (NAMI)

Handout GrayMatters_SubstanceUse 1.19.22

The prevalence of substance use disorder in older adults is increasing as the baby boom generation ages. Alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs are the leading causes of the increase. High-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder is the leading substance use disorder in older adults. Prescription drug misuse and use disorder in older adults are the second leading cause of substance use disorder. Illicit drug use in older adults is also increasing. As people age, medical conditions, both physical and mental, mask the ability to recognize the impact of substance use, resulting in unexpected and sometimes, very serious outcomes. Screening and assessment of older adults for substance use disorders should be part of regular health visits.


  • Review the reasons why the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications among older adults, is one of the fastest-growing health problems in the U.S.
  • Recognize the negative consequences of improper use or overuse of those substances.
  • Identify age-related changes that can elevate an older adult’s sensitivity to their effects.
  • Learn about co-occurring disorders and older adult resources.

Kay King is the Older Adults Program Coordinator and an adult community educator for NAMI Minnesota (the National Alliance on Mental Illness of MN). Each year she teaches about 4,000 families, professionals, community members, and people living with mental illness about good mental health, suicide prevention, and mental illness. She is a former executive director of a retirement community with independent and assisted living and a general manager of large hotels and resorts nationally and internationally. Kay is a family member and has worked for NAMI Minnesota for 13 years.