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Baby Boomers Still Doing Drugs as Seniors
Date:1/8/2010

Need for substance abuse treatment could double by 2020, report shows

FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 5 percent of aging Baby Boomers in the United States are abusing drugs, a new government report shows.

That's about 4.3 million adults over the age of 50 who are smoking marijuana, abusing prescription medication and engaging in other illicit drug activity -- a number that far exceeds that of their parents' generation.

"This is becoming more and more apparent in practice," said Dr. Ihsan M. Salloum, chief of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Treatment and Research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "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."

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, after all, the era of the Rolling Stones as senior citizens.

The projected increase in the number of older drug abusers is expected to double the demand for treatment services by 2020, the report stated.

The report, based on data collected during 2006-08 from almost 20,000 U.S. adults born between 1946 and 1964, found that more men are smoking marijuana than are abusing prescription drugs (4.2 percent vs. 2.3 percent). About the same proportion of women engage in both behaviors (hovering near 2 percent).

Many more men aged 50 to 54 acknowledged using marijuana in the previous year than women (8.5 percent vs. 3.9 percent).

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).

Less than 1 percent of older adults
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