Do Baby Boomers Use More Drugs Than Other Generations?

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Many people consider these three things to be defining elements of the 1960s. The baby boom generation was a prominent part of that culture. Evidence indicates that drug abuse and addiction are still very much a part of baby boomers’ lives. This drug use could be a problem for baby boomers and their families, but there are solutions to this problem.

What Are Baby Boomers and How Do They Use Drugs?

Around 76 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964, creating a group of people known as the baby boom generation. Other countries, such as England, experienced similar population booms after the end of World War II. The large numbers of baby boomers means that compared to smaller generations, there are a lot of drug users—and a lot of everything—in this group.

In addition, Americans born in the early years of the baby boom reached their teenage and young adult years in the 1960s and 1970s, a time known for more widespread drug experimentation than previous decades. Large numbers of this generation also attended college, a place where some of this experimentation took place. Various reports say that this group is still using a substantial amount of drugs.

Part of this drug use is legitimate. Baby boomers are aging and aging people tend to have more physical ailments. Because of these ailments, baby boomers and older generations tend to have more prescriptions for drugs than younger generations. Sometimes baby boomers use these drugs incorrectly. This misuse can be accidental. Their drugs might interact with other drugs or doctors might not adequately monitor the prescriptions or how they are affecting their patients.

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How Do Baby Boomers Abuse Drugs?

Prescription drug misuse can also be intentional. Baby boomers might take prescription drugs in higher dosages than prescribed and for longer than they should. They might take prescription drugs with alcohol or other substances, steal the prescriptions of others, or even obtain the drug without a prescription. Since a number of prescription drugs are potent, this misuse can be extremely dangerous.

This kind of drug abuse is on the rise. Doctors reported that the proportion of patients forty years old or older seeking treatment for opiate problems in Europe rose from 8.6% to 17.6% from 2002 to 2005. Opiates are powerful drugs that include prescription medications such as codeine and morphine as well as heroin and opium. Baby boom drug abuse occurs throughout the world.

Why Do Baby Boomers Use Drugs? How Do They Treat Their Drug Abuse?

Like their counterparts around the world, many American baby boomers who abuse drugs first tried drugs and alcohol when they were younger. People who try substances at a younger age are more likely to use and abuse them in the future. This group of users is known as early onset users. Other baby boomers are late onset users. Members of this group often turn to drugs to cope with stress. Members of the baby boom and other generations also develop substance abuse problems with mental health issues.

Baby boom drug use is on the rise in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2002, 907,000 Americans from the ages of fifty to fifty-nine said that they had abused illicit (illegal) drugs or misused prescription drugs in the past month. In 2010, the number of Americans in that age group who had abused illicit or prescription drugs in the past month had jumped to 2,375,000.

To treat these burgeoning numbers, some rehab facilities have opened special units to treat just baby boomers. As baby boomers age and become senior citizens, they can find rehab facilities that treat senior populations. This demonstrates that while drug abuse is difficult, finding specialized help can be easy.

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