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Addiction Rises Among Seniors, Baby Boomers

on Monday, 18 June 2012. Posted in Breaking News, From Professionals

seniors and substance abuse

Baby boomers came of age in the 60's, fueled with drugs and idealism, but now they face another battle with substance as prescription drugs become a common way for this age group to deal with pain, anxiety, and stress. According to, baby boomers are in danger of becoming the "Hooked Generation," as they progress into seniorhood.

State and federal statistics show the number of people in their 50s and 60s reporting illicit drug use and seeking help for addiction has skyrocketed in the last ten years. Dr. Gayathri Dowling, acting chief of the science policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, "We can't ignore that older adults are using harder substances, that we are seeing increases in emergency room visits where people present with drug abuse. But, when we think about these addictions, we tend to think about younger people. Nobody thinks to ask older people about substance abuse, and that includes their physicians."

Statistics from Nova Southeastern University show the number of Floridians ages 51-60 who entered public-funded primary treatment programs went up 37% between 2001 and 2011, with 4,818 admittances last year. Sedatives proved to be one of the main reasons for these admittances, with 19% of all admissions involving drugs like Valium and Xanax. The treatment for crack cocaine among this age group also rose dramatically, from 325 to 412 annual admittances.

National Institutes of Health surveys show 2.4 million people ages 50-59 said they abused prescription or illegal drugs in the past month for the year of 2010. This is almost 3 times more than reported in 2002. National Institute of Health's website,, released a consumer alert on substance abuse, as well as publishing materials about seniors and drugs, such as how to properly take their medications.

In 2010, 681 Floridians ages 45-54 and 315 ages 55-64 died from accidental poisonings, including overdoses, in 2010. That is nearly double the fatalities for the younger group and four times more in the older group than in 2002.

Click here to read more and discover why baby boomers are susceptible to addiction.

If you know a senior struggling with addiction, click here for more information.

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