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Drug and alcohol use is on the rise among seniors, yet rehab is out of reach for many

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 - 3:20pm
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 - 4:31pm

The number of drug and alcohol deaths among people 65 and older is on the rise. It’s a concerning trend, but substance abuse treatment centers are mostly out of reach for older adults on Medicare. 

Paige LeForte is a clinical director with Spectrum Healthcare, which provides behavioral health care across Yavapai and Maricopa counties. LeForte says alcohol is a common substance used by older adults; so are synthetic opioids like fentanyl. 

Yet, despite the uptick substance abuse disorder, treatment remains mostly out of reach.  

"Prescott Arizona is one of the most popular rehab cities in America. And not a single one of those facilities accepts Medicare as an insurance and Medicare will not credential them to provide care," LeForte said. 

And unless this changes, LeForte says we’ll continue to see a disparity in terms of who can access treatment. 

"On a crisis call, I had an individual with Medicare primary who called 180 treatment facilities in Arizona and all 180 treatment facilities did not accept Medicare," LeForte said.