Illicit drug use, including prescription drug addiction and abuse, is rampant among baby boomers, according to the just-released National Survey on Drug Use and Health. An earlier analysis predicted that 4.4 Americans over 50 would have addiction problems and even more would be dealing with prescription drug addiction and abuse by 2020. It appears the predictions are coming true.
What drives baby boomers to drug use? Some experts say it's because people born between 1946 and 1965 + the more or less official date range for baby boomers + took more drugs than previous generations and, consequently, have a more lax attitude toward drug use later in life. No studies seem to be available to support that, but there are plenty of other pressures facing baby boomers that could well be driving them to prescription drug addiction.
They're often supporting three generations: Sometimes referred to as the +sandwich generation,' baby boomers are having their own kids later in life but their parents are living longer. Consequently, they are sometimes supporting kids in college while also supporting elderly parents.
Pension cuts: A survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2005 showed that nearly half of U.S. companies expected to change their pension plans in 2006. Those plans came to fruition, and the trend continues as companies end pension plans altogether or stop future accruals. Boomers, already in their late 40s or early 50s, don't have time to implement a plan B when they're so close to ending their time as part of the workforce.
Rising and often unaffordable health care costs: Those aged 55 to 65 are the most vulnerable they're getting older so have more health problems, but are not yet eligible for Medicare. In fact, about half the bankruptcies filed in 2005 were motivated by illness and medical bills and, according to a recent report from the AARP, people over 55 filed about 25% of the 1 million bankruptcies in 2007.
People who get involved with drugs, whether the problem is street drugs or prescription drug addiction or abuse, often do so because of stress. The drugs don't solve their problems, but they do make you forget about them for a while. Unfortunately, they eventually lead to even worse problems and being drugged makes one even less able to find solutions.
If you know a boomer having a problem with prescription drug addiction or abuse, or have a problem yourself, get help through a drug addiction treatment center. If the problem is with prescription drug addiction, make sure you find a center that's familiar with prescription drug rehab and withdrawal + getting off them can be medically dangerous.
A good drug addiction treatment program would also address the other problems the person is having in life and help them find solutions. If that's not part of the rehab treatment, the person is at greater risk of relapse.
One more note + older people who have a problem with prescription drug addiction, or any drug addiction or abuse for that matter, often hide it from others. You may have to dig in a little to find out if there's something going on. But be persistent + it's not something to be taken lightly. Once they're in a good drug addiction treatment center they'll be in a position to find real solutions.