Health officials are worried that older adults are abusing drugs, being arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at higher rates, reports the Wall Street Journal. The surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach late middle age. Facing the pains and losses connected to aging, boomers, who as youths used drugs at the highest rates of any generation, are turning to drugs. The sharp increase in overdose deaths among older adults in particular is “very concerning,” said Wilson Compton, deputy director for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Te rate of death by accidental drug overdose for people aged 45 through 64 increased 11-fold between 1990, when no baby boomers were in the age group, and 2010, when the age group was filled with baby boomers, say Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data. That multiple of increase was greater than for any other age group in that time span. Experts say the drug problem among the elderly has been caused by a generation with an inclination for mind-altering substances growing old in an era of widespread opioid painkiller abuse. Pain pills follow marijuana as the most popular ways for aging boomers to get high, says the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.