Neurocognitive and substance use disorders in older adults: challenges and evidence

Aditi Agrawal, Rayah Touma Sawaya, Margaret Ojeahere, Vanessa Padilla, Samer El Hayek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to review the presentation of substance use disorders in older adults, how addiction intertwines with neurocognitive disorders and how to approach this vulnerable population. Design/methodology/approach: Electronic data searches of PubMed, Medline and the Cochrane Library (years 2000–2021) were performed using the keywords “neurocognitive,” “dementia,” “substance use,” “addiction,” “older adults” and “elderly.” The authors, in consensus, selected pivotal studies and conducted a narrative synthesis of the findings. Findings: Research about substance use disorders in older adults is limited, especially in those with superimposed neurocognitive disorders. Having dual diagnoses can make the identification and treatment of either condition challenging. Management should use a holistic multidisciplinary approach that involves medical professionals and caregivers. Originality/value: This review highlights some of the intertwining aspects between substance use disorders and neurocognitive disorders in older adults. It provides a comprehensive summary of the available evidence on treatment in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-99
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Dual Diagnosis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 21 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Dementia
  • Elderly
  • Neurocognitive
  • Older adults
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurocognitive and substance use disorders in older adults: challenges and evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this