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Baby Boomers Still Using Drugs as They Stumble Towards Older Age

posted 01:45 AM EST, Mon January 11, 2010
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Baby Boomers Still Using Drugs as They Stumble Towards Older Age © Photo Credit: Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer

SAMSHA says that if baby boomers keep at it, the need for older adult drug treatment programs is going to double by 2020.

Researchers at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) say that if baby boomers keep popping pills like they currently do, the need for older adult substance abuse treatment is going to double by 2020.

SAMHSA issued this projection warning after examining the statistics from a survey on drug use of 19 921 adults aged 50 and over who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (data from 2006-2008).

Some findings from this survey include:

  • 4.3 million adults over the age of 50 have used an illicit drug within a year
  • 2.5 million adults over the age of 50 have used marijuana within a year
  • 1.9 million adults over the age of 50 abused a prescription drug with a year
  • Older men are almost twice as likely as older women to abuse an illicit drug
  • Adults aged 50-59 are far more likely to use any illicit drug than adults 60 and over – (9.3% of adults aged 50-54 used an illicit drug within the year)

The researchers suspect that drug use by older adults may be increasing because of the entry of the baby boomers into this older age cohort.  The baby boomers used far more illicit drugs during younger adulthood than did their predecessors and a significant percentage of these baby booming drug users seem to have retained their predilections.

SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S Hyde, J.D. commented on the implications of this upswing in older adult drug use by saying, “These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services.”

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