Some Things Never Change and Baby Boomers Still Get High

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Tune in, turn on and drop out was the motto of many baby boomers as they revolutionized drug use such as marijuana and other illegal drugs. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that many things do not change. A government study based on data collected during 2006-08 from almost 20,000 U.S. adults born between 1946 and 1964, found that 5% of baby boomers are smoking marijuana and abusing prescription drugs. That is 4.3 millions adults over the age of 50 using these drugs.

"This is becoming more and more apparent in practice," said Dr. Ihsan M. Salloum, chief of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse "You have both prescription drugs being used that people can become addicted to and also people who have had a pattern of use from before."

Peter Delany who is the director of the Office of Applied Studies at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated that the problem is people who used drugs when they were younger and never really stopped suggesting that this is the era of the Rolling Stones as senior citizens.

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SAMHSA report states that, “the aging of the baby boom generation is resulting in a dramatic increase in levels of illicit drug use among adults 50 and older. These increases may require the doubling of substance abuse treatment services needed for this population by 2020.”

Marijuana use was more common than the nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs for adults aged 50 to 54 and those aged 55 to 59 , but among those aged 65 or older, nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs was more common than marijuana use.

Members of the health community are concerned about how to treat all these aging drug users, according to Business Week. “Finding appropriate treatments for this group add more potential complications. We don’t really have data and research for the most effective treatments for older individuals,” said Jeffrey Parsons, chair of psychology at Hunter College in New York City. “Are existing programs effective or do we need to start from scratch?”

The study showed that rates of abuse among those 50 and older nearly doubled between 2002 and 2007 and suggests that the number of older adults using drugs will increase in the next two decades. It has been predicted that by the year 2020, the number of persons needing treatment for a substance use disorder will double among persons aged 50 or older as the baby boom generation moves into older adulthood.

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