Tags: baby boomers | drug overdoses | marijuana | painkillers

WSJ: Huge Increase in Baby Boomer Drug Overdoses Since 1990

By    |   Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:16 PM

When it comes to mind-altering substances, "flower child" Baby Boomers are still up to their old '60s tricks.

Whether they continued to use illegal drugs throughout their adult lives, or dropped their old habits in favor of careers and child-rearing but picked them up once more as they approached retirement age, The Wall Street Journal notes: "Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates. These surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach late middle age."

Most popular with older adults is still marijuana, but with opiate painkillers following close behind, their rate of accidental drug overdoses has increased by 11 times since 1990, the Journal reports.

Citing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Journal states: "The surge has pushed the accidental overdose rate for these late middle age adults higher than that of 25- to 44-year-olds for the first time. More than 12,000 boomers died of accidental drug overdoses in 2013, the most recent data available. That is more than the number that died that year from either car accidents or influenza and pneumonia."

Dr. Wilson Compton of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Journal, "generally, we thought of older individuals as not having a risk for drug abuse and drug addiction. As the baby boomers have aged and brought their habits with them into middle age, and now into older adult groups, we are seeing marked increases in overdose deaths."

Vanity Fair reports: "According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.6 percent of Americans age 55 to 59 got high in 2013, up from 1.6 percent in 2002. Adults age 60 to 64 burning down nearly doubled from 2.4 percent in 2002 to 4.7 percent in 2013."

Older folks having trouble buying pot where it is still illegal often turn to their children, Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, told Vanity Fair.

"What's ironic is that despite our laws being intended to prevent younger people from accessing marijuana, they have easier access than older Americans," Tvert said.

"Oftentimes in states where it's illegal, older people have to ask their younger friends or their kids to help them find marijuana."

Mike Massey, 58, a California union organizer and former rock guitarist, used pot and cocaine in the 70s, stopped using drugs for many years, but got back into them when a knee injury from running introduced him to painkillers.

"It reminded me of getting high and getting loaded," said Massey, now 58 years old, who went into recovery and stopped using drugs again in 2013. "Your mind never forgets that.

"What I suspect is, we know how to get high. We know the sensation, in a broad sense. Once you've been there, it's easier to get back into it," he told the Journal.

People between the ages of 45 and 64 had the highest rate of hospital stays for drug use in 2014, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports, the Journal notes. Twenty years ago, it was people between 25 and 44.

Most hospital admissions for those between 45-64 were for heroin use, 36 percent, followed by 12 percent for opiate painkillers, 22 percent for crack cocaine and 10 percent for methamphetamine, the Journal notes.

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The Wall Street Journal notes: "Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates. These surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach late middle age."
baby boomers, drug overdoses, marijuana, painkillers
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2015-16-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:16 PM
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