Mrs Christine Goodair

Since 2007  I have been at St. George’s working on a range of substance misuse projects. My current programmes of work are Substance Misuse in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum, EU- Madness, a project monitoring the health harms of novel psychoactive substances, the National Programme on Drug Related Deaths and helping with the St George’s heritage/archives programme.

Previously, I worked for over 20 years in special libraries and information services. My last information role was at DrugScope as manager of their information services and website, including working on two European projects on addictions.

Our invisible addicts: Public health and substance misuse in older people

In 2011 the publication of Our Invisible Addicts represented an important landmark in recognising the extent of substance-related health problems amongst older people. Our knowledge concerning the clinical and public mental health aspects of substance misuse in this group has continued to advance. Concurrently substance misuse amongst older people has continued to grow as the population of ‘baby boomers’ ages, increasing both the number of older people and the percentage of the older population with substance misuse.

An expert group was established to update and revise the report. This process elicited individual and collective expert knowledge, drawing on the skills and experience of health professionals from the field and others, including a patient ‘s perspective.  A systematic literature review was undertaken to identify new material.

Results / key outcomes
Older substance misusers

– have the highest rate of rise of prevalence, hospital admissions and deaths in the population;

– who have access to treatment, do improve and have similar, and in some cases better, health and social outcomes when compared to younger people substance misusers;

While there are some examples of service models, evidence for developing policy is constrained due to a dearth of UK based research.

This work identified gaps in the range and availability of services for older substance users. A national strategy is needed that provides integrated policies devised by stakeholders, with financial support and direction by government, and driven at local, regional and national levels. To underpin this an appropriately trained clinical workforce is required.


Dr Tony Rao – Royal College of Psychiatrists (Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry), Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Visiting Lecturer in Old Age Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London
Christine Goodair BA (Hons) FRSA: Programmes Manager (Substance Misuse), Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict

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