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The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Adult Protective Services

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Opioids are a significant contributor to the U.S. addiction and overdose crisis. Older adults are an important but frequently forgotten cohort affected by the opioid epidemic. As a group, older adults experience multiple chronic conditions and high rates of chronic pain (Frenk et al., 2015 (PDF | 579 KB)). Opioids and related prescription and non-prescription drugs frequently are the treatment of choice for these older adults, which can lead to a life of addiction fraught with emotional distress, diminished relationships, criminal activity, and often death.

Pill bottle open with spilled pills on a light blue surface

This study aimed to understand the nature, extent, and challenges confronted by adult protective services (APS) staff in providing services to clients affected by opioids. In consultation with Administration for Community Living (ACL), the study team developed the following objectives:


  • Identify the scope and characteristics of APS caseloads involving opioid abuse
  • Identify interventions used and challenges to implementing these interventions
  • Identify additional services needed
  • Identify characteristics and challenges particular to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Last Modified: 11/30/2023