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Drug Addiction in Baby Boomers

By: Carol Morriscey

Baby boomers are facing increasing health conditions and decreasing responsibility, resulting in many slipping back into the drug addictions of their youth. Drug Addiction in Baby Boomers

The baby boomers grew-up in an age of bell bottoms, The Beatles, and experimental drug use. As they reached adulthood, responsibilities mounted and drug use waned. However, drug addiction in the baby boomer generation has been steadily climbing over the past decade, as they return to the addictions of their youth. Emergency room visits related to marijuana, cocaine, and even heroin are rising in this cohort. The most common drugs of abuse for the boomers are prescription opioids and benzodiazepines. The generational and current lifestyle changes which are so closely intertwined in the baby boomers in 2017 create a situation ripe for drug addiction in the aging population.

Generational Effects

In the years the baby boomers were experimenting with their freedom drug use was the norm. As a result, this generation has more lenient and relaxed attitudes towards drug use. Historically, their rates of drug use outrank the generations both before and after them. A significant portion of baby boomers have participated in recreational drug use at one time throughout their lives. In fact, of those born between 1948-1952, almost 48% have used illicit drugs in their lifetime. Thus, there is an established pattern of acceptance of drug use, increasing the likelihood of re-emerging drug use.

How Aging Increases the Risk of Addiction

As the boomers age, their risk of addiction continues to grow. There are many social factors which may encourage drug use, such as growing social isolation, less responsibility after retirement, and coping with the loss of loved ones. Further, changes in health such as chronic pain, surgeries and falls increase the probability of prescription medication use. Many addictions begin with a benign prescription, which grows out of control, with excessive or prolonged use, as is the case when using opioids to treat chronic pain. Finally, as the body ages its metabolism slows, making the same amount of drugs which were used in youth have larger effects. The body is no longer able to process them in the way it once was, making dependence, and subsequently addiction, a likely outcome. Additionally, this puts baby boomers at a higher risk of over dose.

Seeking Drug Addiction Treatment

Although addiction in older adults can present unique problems and concerns, there is good news. Baby Boomers have very high rates of success in recovery. Unfortunately, despite the high success rates, it is often more difficult to identify a drug addiction in an older adult, as they do not fit the typical profile of addiction. As a result, being aware of the unique signs of addiction in adulthood is crucial. As the issue of drug addiction in the Baby Boomer generation becomes more apparent, drug rehabs are catering to this unique population, allowing a comfortable and successful recovery. Searidge Foundation seeks to create a supportive environment and views each patient as unique, with their own needs and abilities. As such, Searidge Foundation caters to baby boomers, allowing them to reach their full potential, and finally put their addiction to rest.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals
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