Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McCaslin, Rosemary


As gerontologists may know, there are a great deal of studies and a variety of academic literature on the misuse of alcohol and prescription medication amongst the elderly population. While there is a plethora of information on alcohol and prescription misuse, there is little reported data about the prevalence of other substance misuse experienced by this population. This study aims to help to fill that gap in the data by using quantitative methods to describe the scope of substance abuse of individuals 55-years or older. This study utilizes data from the Treatment Data Set Admission (TEDS-A). The TEDS-A is a public data set which includes admissions data from multiple substance abuse treatment facilities associated with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA). This is a regional study, therefore this study focuses only on individuals 55-years or older who have been admitted into substance abuse treatment facilities in the state of California in the year 2014.

The TEDS-A is a data set that is supported and conducted by members of SAMHSA. Most of their public data sets, including the TEDS-A, can be accessed on their website ( The data available in the TEDS-A involves a number of admission questions, including demographic data, reasons for intake, primary through tertiary substance concerns, questions regarding social status, information on medical insurance, and more.

This study looks at the descriptive frequencies of the use of alcohol, crack/cocaine, marijuana/hashish, heroin, other opiates & synthetics, methamphetamine, and other substances. The study includes 13,512 cases, of which 9966 (73.8%) of cases were male, 3539 (26.2%) were female, and 7 (0.1%) were missing and/or invalid. The results of the data suggests that, while alcohol abuse is a problem, those over 55 are admitted into substance abuse clinics for many other reasons, not just alcohol abuse.