Illegal Drug Use Is Booming Among Seniors and Baby Boomers

Friday, September 06, 2013
(photo: Chuck Burton, AP)

Older Americans have increasingly turned to using illegal drugs in recent years, according to new figures out of Washington.


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that a little more than 9% of Americans aged 12 and older (about 24 million people) were current consumers of illicit substances.


But among aging Baby Boomers, the rate of drug use has doubled and even tripled.


For individuals 50 to 54 years old, the rate leaped from 3.4% in 2002 to 7.2% last year.


During the same time period, the rate more than tripled from 1.9% to 6.6% for those aged 55 to 59.


And among those in the 60-64 age category, the rate increased from 1.1% in 2003 to 3.6% in 2012.


The most commonly used illegal drug by seniors and younger Americans was marijuana, according to the report.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Drug Use Doubles Among U.S. Baby Boomers and Seniors (Agence France-Presse)

Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Half of Elderly in UK Use Prescribed Drugs that Shorten Life or Hurt Brain Function (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)          

Who’s Abusing Which Substances? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)        


anonamouse 6 years ago
Why not just come out and say it in the lede? Older folks are smoking more pot. So what? We're talking about cannabis here, which may be an "illicit drug" but is not a drug of abuse, according to multiple independent studies. We can't help the ignorance of the federal apparatchiks (and corporate greed) which maintain the absurd status quo. But, in this free country, we don't have to pay lip service to a fallacious legal notion --- and neither do the editors of this site --- that cannabis is a drug of abuse. Again, according to multiple studies, cannabis' abuse potential is somewhere south of coffee's, trailing well behind the No. 1 drug of abuse which is of course the legal drug alcohol. I suggest the real story here is probably that alcohol use is falling among the elderly as they have begun self-medicating with pot instead.
claygooding 6 years ago
The reason more seniors are using marijuana is because they have found out what eating a cookie with 1/2 gram of marijuana cooked in it before bedtime can do for arthritis and muscle cramps. Most states medical marijuana programs allows the use of cannabis in a last ditch effort to ease a persons pain while ignoring all the non-life threatening health issues cannabis is good at treating. States that do allow it's use for minor health issues are treated as if all they are doing is selling pot just to get people high, The government and prohibitionist claim they are just fronts for criminal activities ignoring the historical evidence that doctors used cannabis for centuries for treating a multitude of health issues. When America gets the propaganda our government has spoon fed them for the last 75 years rinsed from their minds cannabis will return to our medicine cabinets and diets as a preventative and first choice medicine.

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