Background and Objectives: Racial disparities in substance use among young adults have been well documented in the substance use literature, but little attention has been paid to older adults. While being an older adult is positively associated with substance use treatment completion, racial disparities in treatment completion have yet to be examined. The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent racial disparities exist in substance use treatment completion among older adults (65 and older). Research Design and Methods: This cross-sectional study utilized data from the most recent Treatment Episode Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which documents discharges from a publicly funded substance use treatment program in the United States. A total of 17,942 older adults reported to a substance use treatment program in 2017 and 6,653 met the criteria for the study. Chi-squared tests were used to analyze group differences and a binary logistic regression was used to predict substance use treatment completion. Results: Results show that Black older adults were 37% less likely to complete a substance use treatment program than Whites (OR = 0.630) while Hispanic older adults were 26% more likely to complete a substance use treatment program than Whites (OR = 1.26). Discussion and Implications: These results support the findings from similar studies with younger adults and support the theory that racial disparities are prevalent across the life span. Although Hispanics had a higher treatment completion rate than Whites, this is likely a reflection of familismo, where decisions about health treatments is a group process and a steady network of family members are available to provide advice and encouragement. The significant disparity observed between Black and White older adults suggest a need to consider cultural, historical, and systemic factors that affect voluntary termination of substance use treatment among Black older adults.
- Alcohol use disorder
- Treatment adherence