Usually, when we talk about drug use trends, we think of teens or young adults. Even if we consider drug use among adults, we rarely think about the elderly and drug problems. However, recent data suggests that’s where we should be spending some more attention—as drugs are affecting an increasing number of people over the age of 50.
Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964 are so plentiful, as they age they skew any statistic. But even when you account for their sheer number, it seems, that the number of older Americans battling drug problems seems to be increasing. So much so, that the federal government issued a warning to medical professionals and families alike to be on the look-out for signs of a drug problem among the elderly.
From 2004 to 2010, drug-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits jumped 116% in those aged 55-64. The number of illicit drug users tripled among people in their 50s between 2002 and 2011—from 900,000 to 2.7 million, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Experts say there are several reasons for this. First, Baby Boomers were the first generation to truly have access to a large amount of illicit drugs for recreation. Also, in the 60s, for instance, marijuana use was relatively acceptable and many partook, reducing the stigma associated with recreational drug use. Also, this generation was among the first to ascribe to the notion that a pill can fix whatever ails you—from heartburn to depression and insomnia, opening the door to prescription drug abuse.
In Florida, the numbers echo the national increase. Fifty-something Floridians are more likely than other generations to be addicted to both illicit drugs and alcohol, according to the Miami Herald. The number of those in their fifties to be admitted to publicly funded treatment programs jumped 67 percent in the past ten years.
These older adults aren’t just smoking pot and drinking, or using prescription drugs—they come in addicted to things like cocaine too. Even if they aren’t heavy users, their use of a hard drug at that age could interfere with other medications or other health conditions.
The older generation’s drug habits could result in a growing number of older Americans being arrested and charged with drug crimes, further boosting the number of people involved in the already-swelling criminal justice system.
If you have a drug problem and are facing criminal charges as a result, we may be able to help. You have rights and although the potential outcome is very serious, you are innocent until proven guilty. Contact us today to discuss your case and your legal options.