Cocaine crisis in the elderly: NHS is treating patients as old as NINETY for Class A abuse


Cocaine crisis in the elderly: NHS is treating patients as old as NINETY with mental health issues due to ‘extreme use’ of Class As – while number of over-60s in hospital soars 500% in a decade

  • There were 14 cases of over-90s treated for cocaine abuse in 2020-21 in England
  • Admissions of over-60s for cocaine abuse has increased 518 percent in a decade
  • Experts say better care has resulted in a cohort of drug users living to old age










The NHS is having to treat people as old as 90 with mental health conditions caused by extreme cocaine use.

Meanwhile, the number of times over-60s were admitted to hospitals in England with a primary or secondary diagnosis of ‘mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of cocaine’ rose from 67 in 2010-11 to 414 in 2020-21 – a 518 percent increase.

In the 60-69 age bracket, there was a 516 percent increase, with 516 admission in 2020-21 compared with 51 in 2010-11.

Long-term cocaine use affects mental health in many ways, from provoking anxiety and depression to full-blown psychotic illnesses

Long-term cocaine use affects mental health in many ways, from provoking anxiety and depression to full-blown psychotic illnesses

The number of over-60s admitted to hospitals in England for cocaine abuse side-effects has increased by 618 percent over the last decade

The number of over-60s admitted to hospitals in England for cocaine abuse side-effects has increased by 618 percent over the last decade

In the last ten years, the number of 70-79-year-olds admitted soared from just nine to 79 cases.  

Cases in the 80-89 age group doubled in a decade, from three to six.

In those aged 90 and over, cases rose from four in 2010-11 to 14 in the most recent financial year.  

Experts say the statistics are a result of drug users living longer. 

Dr David Bremner, a consultant addictions psychiatrist at healthcare provider Turning Point, told the Sunday Express: ‘Drug and alcohol services are having to adapt to meet the needs of an ageing population.

‘Widespread use of a harm-reduction approach over the years has helped people stay safe and live longer.

‘As a result, we have a cohort of older people that with complex needs coming to us for support.

‘As with any drug, the impact of long-term cocaine use will affect mental health in a range of ways, from anxiety and depression and up to severe mental illnesses such as psychotic illness.

‘Turning Point would encourage anyone, themselves or loved ones, who is using drugs to talk to their GP or local drug and alcohol service, no matter their age.’

Rachel Britton, from addiction charity With You, told the Sunday Express that people with mental health conditions sometimes self-medicate with illicit drugs like cocaine.

She said: ‘Distressing feelings can get worse, with both ‘rebound anxiety’ and paranoia being linked to coming off drugs such as cocaine.’

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