A growing number of baby boomers are struggling with addiction to meth and seeking help after living with it through middle age, reports the Associated Press. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found the number of people older than 55 seeking treatment for meth addiction increased from 44 in 1992 to 693 in 2003, the most recent year for which statistics are available. The number is only a small fraction of the total seeking treatment for meth addiction–about 136,000 people in 2003.
Ronald Hunsicker of the Pennsylvania-based National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers said older meth addicts remain an uncharted group. The drug can cause rotten teeth, rapid weight loss, and hallucinations among users of any age. The effects of addiction can be worse with age, causing high blood pressure, hypertension, and a risk of heart attack. Said Barbara Krantz of the Hanley Center, which offers drug treatment in West Palm Beach, Fl.: “Chemical dependency is a brain disease. It doesn’t matter how old you are.”