When people think of someone who is using illicit drugs, normally they picture a teen or young adult. Actually, there is another demographic that uses as well and it may surprise you. They are people between the ages of 50 and 59, also known as the “baby boomer” generation and their abuse of illicit drugs has more than doubled in the past ten years. But how could this be?
Many believe it could be the eruption of drugs in the 60’s and 70’s. Resent studies have shown that there is an increased risk of people having problems with drug abuse later in life if they used drugs in their teens and early 20’s. Another issue is the absence of drug education directed towards this age group, as most campaigns are targeted towards a younger crowd. This may be the reason why drug use and addiction continue to increase among this generation. Records show that the number of people between the ages of 51 and 60 admitted into state-funded drug treatment centers in Florida has gone up by 37 percent since 2001.
Illicit Drugs Aren’t the Only Problem
Along with the Baby Boomers’ exposure to drugs as young adults they were also the first generation to be introduced to the era of prescription drugs, which are handed out by doctors for any little ailment one could think of. A survey taken by the Substance Abuse Administration between 2006 and 2008 showed that out of 20,000 adults, ages 50 and over, 5.2 percent of them had used marijuana during that time.
Another 2.9 percent had taken prescription drugs that were not prescribed for them, painkillers being among the most common.
Overall, 7.9 percent said they had taken some kind of illicit drug. This poses an additional problem: Persons taking prescribed medicines for things such as high blood pressure and cholesterol are now mixing these drugs with the ones already in there system, which could cause dangerous interactions and side effects. Also, unknowing physicians may wrongly diagnose patients that are abusing drugs. For example, memory loss as a result of chronic marijuana use could be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In addition, the lack of good education and guideline on how to properly use the drugs prescribed to them may contribute to the abuse of prescription drugs. In response to this epidemic, lawmakers are working to establish safety measures to benefit doctors and their patients and hopefully reverse this trend.
Further Complications to Come In the Future
Researchers worry that high rates of chronic drug use among the baby boomer generation will most likely create many health complications for millions of aging Americans and overwhelm the country’s drug-treatment programs.