It’s not a result of peer pressure. It’s not a result of experimenting for the first time. It’s not even just an excuse to get high. It’s the issues that are affecting those Americans age 50 and older. The faces of those greatly at risk of drug addiction have a few more wrinkles and gray hairs than some may expect. A report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains that more and more baby boomers are becoming addicted to drugs in their later years. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also responded to the growing trend among baby boomers and issued a consumer alert on prescription and drug abuse.
Why is Addiction Growing Among Boomers
Stepping into the senior years brings with it new challenges that test both the body and mind. These new pressures and problems bring risks for drug abuse and addiction. Some baby boomers who used drugs in the 1960s and 1970s fall back into use while others unintentionally start abusing drugs as they form addictions from painkillers and other medications. Following are some of the risks that may be associated with the growing trend of addiction:
- Going through a divorce
- Losing a job
- Sense of loss after retirement
- Greater use of prescription drugs due to aging.
Those adults who fall into long-term substance abuse further complicate their failing health. Long-term abuse can make age-related conditions like high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes even worse.
Prescription Drugs and Addiction
Marijuana and other illegal drugs can disrupt the efficacy of important prescription medications for conditions such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. For the individuals who took these drugs 40 years ago, their bodies are not as resilient as they used to be. An average man over the age of 50 usually takes about four different prescription drugs. Baby boomers are also huge consumers of prescription anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and painkillers. Another factor that makes drug addiction more risky for baby boomers is the inability to rid the drug from their system very quickly. As the body ages the metabolism slows. A younger person with a higher metabolism can get the drug out of their system faster than an older person.
Slowing the Growing Trend
One positive note in studies has revealed that those aged 50 and older are well-motivated to end their drug abuse and to seek treatment. Probably because of this motivation, most have great success with their substance abuse treatment. In order to help slow the growing trend of drug addiction among baby boomers, friends, relatives, and doctors can be more aware of the types of and combinations of medications that are being taken. Emotional Support for those going through divorce, work-related problems, or depression can also be essential in combating the risk for drug addiction.