Baby boomers’ use of marijuana and other drugs is increasing usage rates among older adults, while drug use among teenagers is declining, says the new National Survey on Drug Use and Health, USA Today reports. Overall, illicit drug use in the U.S. rose slightly from 2004 to 2005, driven by small increases in cocaine and prescription drug abuse by young adults 18-25 and by rising drug use, mostly marijuana, among adults 50-59. The survey said 8.1 percent of people 12 and older were illicit drug users in 2005, up from 7.9 percent in 2004 but down from 8.3 percent in 2002. The use of illicit drugs among baby boomers 50-59 rose 63 percent from 2002 to 2005.
Last year, 4.4 percent of adults in their 50s said they had used an illicit drug in the previous month, up from 2.7% in 2002. Anti-drug officials say the survey indicates that while some baby boomers who were in their teens and 20s when drug-use rates peaked in the 1970s are taking their drug habits well into middle age, today’s youths aren’t embracing drugs so enthusiastically. Steve Hager, 55, editor of the marijuana advocacy magazine High Times, says some ailing people his age choose marijuana over sleeping pills or anti-depressants. “People in their 60s are rediscovering it,” Hager says of marijuana, which has been used as a pain reliever for glaucoma and other maladies.