Aging, Alcohol, and Addictions

An informal interest group of the

Gerontological Society of America





Interest Group website hosted by

the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI),

University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Last updated 04/10/2019

Welcome to the home page of the interest group on "Aging, Alcohol, and Addictions" of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). The convener of the group is Sarah Canham, PhD, Research Associate and BC Real Estate Fellow, Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

This is the web site for this informal interest group (as categorized by the GSA) and provides important links to information and resources about older adults' use or misuse of alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, and/or tobacco. This home page provides links to current members of the GSA interest group, as well as links to theirs and others' web sites related to this field, and helpful references on published research.

The group encourages communication among the many researchers, academicians, health care providers, clinicians, and others working in this field.  The interest group began in 1995, with the first meeting convened by Anne Gurnack, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Roland Atkinson, MD, of the Oregon Health and Science University.  Later conveners included Larry Schonfeld, PhD, University of South Florida, and John Culberson, MD, Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Veterans Hospital.

During each annual meeting of the GSA, group members meet to exchange information and listen to the most recent updates on interventions and research.  On this website, you will find information about our GSA Interest Group members' conference presentations, a bibliography/reference list of publications in our field, and materials from SAMHSA (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Center for Substance Abuse Prevention).  Also, we will post announcements from group members aimed at policy, academic, and clinical issues.

Join the Interest Group!  Current members include GSA members as well as other colleagues who have attended the meetings. Requests to join should be directed to the convener, Dr. Sarah Canham. GSA Interest Group Members are invited to share information for posting on the website or for sending out to the email list. Examples include requests for collaboration in research, citations of new publications in our field, website links, announcements about grants received, etc.

PLEASE NOTE:  We do not post advertisements by non-Interest group members or organizations.

Join us at the next GSA conference in Austin, Texas, from November 13 to 17, 2019

Contact Dr. Canham if you would like to give a 5-10 minute presentation to the group.



Anyone can attend the interest group meeting and we invite you to provide updates or brief presentations on your work and research in the field of alcohol, aging, and addictions. Please contact Dr. Canham (scanham if you wish to present or know more about the membership.


For more information related to the Interest Group, click on the following topics:


1.  GSA Presentations:  Presentations from previous conferences on substance abuse, medication misuse, etc.

2.  Substance Abuse & Older Adults Bibliography:  Selected research articles & book chapters

4.  Books and Manuals by Interest Group Members and Colleagues:


Treatment of Late-Life Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, and Substance Abuse

Patricia A. Areán, PhD (Editor).  American Psychological Association.   ISBN: 978-1-4338-1839-4


-   Building Competencies in Professional Geropsychology: Guidelines, Training Model, and Strategies for Professional Development - Sara Honn Qualls

-   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Behavioral Activation for Late-Life Depression – Elizabeth DiNapoli, Michael LaRocca, & Forrest Scogin

-   Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Late-Life Depression - Patrick Raue & Patricia A. Areán

-   Problem Solving Treatment for Late-Life Depression - Rebecca Crabb & Patricia A. Areán

-   Evidence-Based Treatment for Late-Life Generalized Anxiety Disorder Catherine  Ayers, Katrina Strickland, & Julie Loebach Wetherell

-  Exposure Therapy for Late-Life Trauma - Joan M. Cook & Stephanie Dinnen

-  Brief Alcohol and Drug Interventions and Motivational Interviewing for Older Adults - Derek D. Satre and Amy Leibowitz

-  Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for Substance Abuse in Older Populations - Nancy H. Liu & Jason M. Satterfield

-  Relapse Prevention Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders in Older Adults – Lawrence Schonfeld and Nicole S. MacFarland


Earlier Publications by Interest Group Members:

Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention for Older Adults: A Group Treatment Approach by Larry W. Dupree & Lawrence Schonfeld Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. DHHS Publication No. 05-4053. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA 2005.

This manual presents a relapse-prevention approach that uses the cognitive-behavioral and self-management intervention (CB/SM) in a counselor-led group treatment setting to help older adults overcome substance use disorders. It provides counselors and treatment providers with background and how-to directions for introducing relapse-prevention techniques to older clients.  Download this manual as a pdf file by clicking on:

Alcohol Problems in Older Adults.  Prevention and Management, by Kristen Lawton Barry, PhD,  David W. Oslin, MD, and Frederic C. Blow, PhD.  (2001) NY:  Springer Publishing

Treating Alcohol and Drug Use in the Elderly by Anne M. Gurnack, Ph.D., Roland Atkinson, M.D., & Nancy Osgood, Ph.D. (Editors). (2001) NY:  Springer Publishing.  Authors and chapters include:

§   DW Oslin & R Holden: Recognition and Assessment of Alcohol and Drug Dependence in the Elderly

§   WL Adams: The Effects of Alcohol on Medical Illnesses and Medication Interactions

§   RM Atkinson & S Misra: Mental Disorders and Symptoms in Older Alcoholics

§   GE Murphy:  Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, and Suicide in the Elderly

§   M Fleming:  Identification and Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders in Older Adults

§   L Schonfeld & LW Dupree:  Age-Specific Cognitive-Behavioral and Self-Management Treatment Approaches

§   RM Atkinson & S Misra:  Further Strategies in the Treatment of Aging Alcoholics

§   RE Finlayson & VE Hofmann:  Prescription Drug Misuse: Treatment Strategies

§   NR Boyd & CT Orleans:  Smoking Cessation for Older Smokers

§   RM Pavalko:  Problem Gambling Among Older People

§   CL Coogle & NJ Osgood:  Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Misuse


Elderly Alcoholism:  Intervention Strategies by Michael Beechem, MSW, Ph.D.  Charles C.Thomas Publishing. 2002

5.  Florida BRITE ProjectBRITE (Brief Intervention and Treatment for Elders) was funded by a five-year grant from DHHS SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment under the “SBIRT program”  (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) with funding also from the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Substance Abuse Program Office. BRITE health educators screened more than 85,000 people ages 55 and older in 70 sites across 18 Florida counties.  BRITE is now listed by SAMHSA and the Administration on Aging as a best practice for behavioral health of older adults, ranking within the highest tier of evidence based practice.

6.  Resources on “Older Adults” from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:  Click on the following links:

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults (TIP #26)  TIP #26 (DHHS Publication 98-3179) describes best practices in screening, assessment, and treatment of older adults who abuse or misuse alcohol, psychoactive prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medications. Many of our Interest Group members served on the panel that produced this TIP.

Forthcoming in late 2019:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (planned). Treating Addiction in Older Adults. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Older Americans Substance Abuse and Mental Health Technical Assistance Center reports include:

Alcohol Use among Older Adults. Pocket Screening Instruments for Health Care and Social Service Providers.  This pocket guide is KAP product from CSAT. It includes the Short-Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test- Geriatric version (S-MAST-G), AUDIT and CAGE screening instruments.

8.  Other Items of Interest:

Medicare Covers Alcohol Misuse Screening and Counseling Under Affordable Care Act


In Memoriam: See the website honoring Interest Group member Dr. Edith S. Lisansky Gomberg, Professor Emeritus of Psychology in the Psychiatry Department, University of Michigan: 


Dr. Gomberg was a pioneer in the fields of substance abuse and women’s issues.


Web site maintained by:

Larry Schonfeld, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Dept of Mental Health Law & Policy

Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL 33612-3899

email: schonfel @