Health Day, citing a new government study, reports that almost 5 percent of aging Baby Boomers in the United States are abusing drugs. Approximately 4.3 million adults over the age of 50 are smoking marijuana, abusing prescription medication and engaging in other illicit drug activity.
The driving force behind the trend, said Peter Delany, director of the Office of Applied Studies at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is people who used drugs when they were younger and never really stopped. This is expected to double the demand for treatment services by 2020.
The study found that more men are smoking marijuana than are abusing prescription drugs. Women engage in both behaviors equally.
Pot smoking was more prevalent among the younger end of the spectrum (those aged 50 to 59), while prescription drug abuse was more common in the older age bracket (aged 65 and up).
“This population tends to have other health problems, especially chronic health problems,” Delany explained. “And as we age we don’t metabolize drugs the same way.”
Also, older people with a substance-abuse diagnosis are much more at risk of suicide, said Dr. David Schlager, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychiatrist with Lone Star Circle of Care, which has health clinics throughout Texas.
I think Delany hit it with the last statement. These drug problems compound already existing chronic conditions and probably exacerbate them. Again, another perfect storm brewing whose perfect solution would be for us all to take more self responsibility.