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Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby Boomer Addiction Rate Rising

The destructive path of addiction affects entire families, from one's spouse all the way to the youngest child. There are a number of addicts who have managed to function in society for decades without major repercussions. Sooner or later their addiction finally catches up to them. Very few addicts are not aware that the life they have chosen to live is damaging to themselves and to others around them. Interventions may be the final breaking point, but, a real addict knows that they have a problem despite their ability to skirt major problems.

Baby Boomers are the first large population of over-50 adults to be addicted not just to alcohol but also with drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As the nation's 77 million baby boomers age, the agency predicts, the number of drug addicts who qualify for senior discounts will only grow. In a report published in December 2009, SAMHSA disclosed that 4.3 million adults age 50 and older had used an illicit drug in the preceding year. The number of boomers with substance-abuse problems will double from 2.5 million in 1999 to 5 million in 2020, the agency forecasts. As people get older and the need for prescription medications becomes greater so will the addiction rate, pain medication and sedatives in conjunction with alcohol is a deadly cocktail.

Free time has also played a part with baby boomers using more alcohol and even illegal drugs like cocaine, without ways to stay busy on a daily basis boomers begin to dabble with drugs and before they know it there is a severe addiction problem. Fred Blow Ph.D. is a leading researcher on aging and addiction. Blow, noticed "a lot more boomers suddenly coming into treatment programs with cocaine problems." He added that, "We'd never seen that before in this population." The new group of cocaine addicts, he says, is middle-aged, middle-class, and often retired. With tons of free time on their hands they don't know what to do with themselves, drugs kill one's time and then they kill the user: When retirement is bereft of fulfilling activities, Blow says, some people turn to drugs to fill the void.

"Whereas alcohol was the dominant, singular problem pushing people into treatment in the past," Blow says, "now we're seeing more cases of a multiple-substance-abuse problem — people using alcohol plus marijuana, or alcohol plus cocaine."


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