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The Pathology of Drug Abuse in Elderly Women

A Qualitative Study

Sohrabi, Azam, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)*; Shamsalinia, Abbas, PhD; Ghaffari, Fatemeh, PhD

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: December 2018 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - p 173–185
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000139
Original Articles

Objectives: One of the most challenging issues facing elderly women is drug abuse. There are different factors affecting the start and continuation of drug use; however, there has not been much research on this subject. Therefore, the present study was conducted to better explore the pathology of substance abuse among elderly women.

Materials and Methods: The present research was a qualitative study of 22 elderly women living in Tehran, Iran, who had experience with drug abuse. The data were gathered utilizing semistructured questions during face-to-face interviews and analyzed by conventional content analysis.

Results: The data analysis process resulted in 3 main categories: “the maze of addiction among elderly women,” “the factors that extend drug abuse,” and “addiction in elderly women: the bell of deprivation.”

Conclusions: There are a few practices that are helpful in decreasing the likelihood of substance abuse among elderly women, including using new pain control treatment methods for the elderly, increasing awareness of the side-effects of drug abuse, inducting the necessary cultural domination practices through group media to prevent breaking the norms of society, and ruling out misconceptions. Financial and emotional support by both family members and society to prevent certain issues, such as forced marriage to addicted men, can also be beneficial in drug addiction withdrawal or prevention among the studied group. Easy access to special withdrawal centers for women, as well as educational-consulting sessions for family members, at which religious principles are emphasized, can help prevent the development of drug abuse in elderly women.

*Student Research Committee

Nursing Care Research Center, Health Research Institute, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol, I.R. Iran

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Abbas Shamsalinia, PhD, Nursing Care Research Center, Health Research Institute, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol 4691714141, I.R. Iran (e-mail:

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