Baby boomers and illicit drug use

Many baby boomers (Americans in the generation born between 1946 and 1964) are continuing to use illicit drugs as they grow older, causing the rate of illicit drug use to go up within the 50 to 59 year old age segment of the population.  According to a new analytical publication produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), those aged 50 to 59 reporting use of illicit drugs within the past year has nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007; while rates among all other age groups are statistically staying the same or decreasing.

An Examination of Trends in Illicit Drug Use among Adults Aged 50 to 59 in the United States is the first in a series of new scientific reports being published periodically by SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies that will provided detailed analysis on important substance abuse and mental health issues challenging the nation.

“These findings show many in the Woodstock generation continue to use illicit drugs as they age,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “This continued use poses medical risks to these individuals and is likely to put further strains on the nation’s health care system — highlighting the value of preventing drug use from ever starting.”

The report analyzes many aspects of this phenomenon including the types of illicit substances involved, different demographic and behavioral factors associated with higher rates of use, and other issues.  The data used in the analysis comes from a wide range of sources including 16,656 respondents aged 50 to 59 participating in the 2002 through 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health – the nation’s premier national public health survey of its kind.

The full report is available on the web at For related publications and information, visit .

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