Cocaine Abuse in Later Life: A Case Series and Review of the Literature

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Objective: To raise awareness about the growing trend of cocaine abuse in later years as an underdiagnosed, undertreated, and comorbid condition in older individuals. Three cases of cocaine use in patients over the age of 50 years in the Malcolm Randall Veterans Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida, within a 10-day span in 2013 are presented.

Data Sources: PubMed was searched using combinations of keywords, including cocaine, addiction, elderly, and aging, to find articles published between 1986 and 2013.

Study Selection: In total, 37 articles were selected for inclusion on the basis of their relevance to the objective and importance to the representation of cocaine abuse, including international guidelines for addiction.

Data Extraction: Each article was reviewed for eligibility. Final decisions were made following full-text review.

Results: Cocaine addiction remains a high-morbidity chronic-relapsing illness with few treatment options. A review of the literature shows that late-life cocaine use is sparsely recognized. Of particular interest are the clinical presentations in which a higher index for detection is warranted. The high rate of medical comorbidity associated with cocaine use, especially cerebrovascular deficits, presents special treatment and social challenges.

Conclusions: As the number of older individuals admitted for substance use continues to climb, clinicians must adapt to the changing demographics by increasing screening, early detection, and treatment options for older persons.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2015;17(2):doi:10.4088/PCC.14r01727