Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
Drugs: They're not just for young people. Old people are getting high in record numbers. A new government study suggests more than 4 million Americans over the age of 50 still smoke pot and abuse prescription drugs, a finding that should surprise no one. Especially if you know ex-hippies.
Baby boomers who came of age in the freewheeling '60s and '70s can't seem to give up their beloved pot, and marijuana use in the over-the-hill set is most prevalent among 50-somethings. Meanwhile, Grandma might have a nasty Xanax habit, for prescription drug abuse is highest among those 65 and older. But the olds are steering clear of the harder stuff, with just 0.5 percent reporting using cocaine in the past year, and just 0.1 percent for most other harder drugs.
In fact, the rate of drug abuse in the age group has almost doubled between 2002 and 2007.
"You have both prescription drugs being used that people can become addicted to and also people who have had a pattern of use from before," Dr. Ihsan M. Salloum, chief of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Treatment and Research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, tells Health News
Though alcohol abuse is still the most prevalent abused substance in that age group, health officials are worried the surge in drug use among the elderly could put strains on treatment resources.