Graying US baby boomers still use illegal drugs
America's baby boomers, who came of age during the socially permissive 1960s and 1970s, still use the recreational drugs of their youth well into their golden years, a US report said Wednesday.
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report found that aging "boomers," many of whom are now in their 50s, have "a much higher lifetime illicit drug use rate" than did people of the same age in earlier eras.
The study, "An Examination of Trends in Illicit Drug Use Among Adults Aged 50 to 59 in the United States," tracked the use of marijuana, cocaine, pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, sedatives and prescription drugs used non-medically among Americans born between 1946 and 1964.
"These findings show that many in the Woodstock generation continue to use illicit drugs as they age," said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, referring to those who identify with the renowned music festival held in 1969 in upstate New York.
"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 every starting."
The report found that the number of US adults aged 50 or older who have used drugs in the preceding year "is projected to more than double from 2.8 million annual average) in 2002 to 2006, to 5.7 million in 2020."
Illegal drug use which can lead to a plethora of social and medical problems in even the young and healthy, is even more risky for older people, the report noted.
"Older adults can have higher blood substance levels for a longer time than younger people after using illicit drugs, affecting their cognitive and motor functions and increasing their risks of having accidents, falls, injuries or impairments of activities of daily living," the study said.
It added: "Many prescription and over the counter medications commonly used by older adults interact adversely with illicit drugs."