As baby boomers are getting older, drug rehabs are seeing an increase of older adults being admitted for addictions. This problem is not new as it has been going on for years. Robert Higgins of New York State’s Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services says that most seniors have been abusing drugs for twenty years or more.
Boomers and Addictions
Alcohol is the most popular drug of choice by older adults with prescription drug abuse coming in a close second. Marijuana, cocaine and heroin also make the list of drugs that seniors abuse. New York State’s Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services reports that drug abuse among older adults has increased by 106% for men and 119% for women between 1995 and 2002.
Drug abuse among seniors was unforeseen and is now almost at epidemic proportions because of the boomers. Back in the 60’s and 70’s many drug users maintained some of their drug habits and now society has aging drug users. This demonstrates that drug addiction and abuse knows no age limits. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the increase in those over the age of 50 being admitted to treatment programs for just heroin abuse rose from 7,000 to 27,000 between 1992 and 2002.
According to CBS News and Brunilda Nazario, MD of WebMD, boomers with cocaine addiction increased from 3,000 to 13,000. Also, the percentage of older adults in treatment for opiate abuse increased from 6.8% to 12% from 1995 to 2002.
Alcohol Addiction among Older Adults
Alcohol abuse is the major substance abuse among older adults. According to a study published at the National Library of Medicine, in the U.S., it is estimated that 2.5 million older adults have alcohol problems and 21% of hospitalized adults over the age of 40 are alcoholics. According to the report, hospital costs are as high as $60 billion every year.
In 1990 those over the age of 65 comprised 13% of the American population and it’s estimated that by 2030 older adults will comprise almost a quarter of the population. This means that this has serious implications for both alcohol-related problems and the costs involved to respond. Today, alcohol-related hospitalizations for older adults are similar to those for heart attacks.
Older Adults and Treatment
SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie, states in a newsletter, “We are only beginning to realize the pervasiveness of substance abuse among older adults.” SAMHSA is making older adults a priority in hopes to be ready for what is expected to be a continuing growing problem.
Wanting help is the first step to getting help. To find out about resources close to home contact the local Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.