The use of narcotics by Americans in their 50s is increasing, according to a new analysis by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Those aged 50 to 59 reporting use of illicit drugs within the past year has nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups have stayed the same or decreased.
The increase for that age group is being driven primarily by the aging of Baby Boomers, who have a much higher lifetime illicit drug use rate than earlier generations. Almost 90 percent of the past year users initiated drug use before age 30, with initiation after age 50 being extremely rare. The typical user in that age group was described as an umarried male living in the West, with low education and income. services. As Baby Boomers age, the analysis concluded, the United States faces the challenge of reducing drug use and treating drug use disorders and associated health conditions in this segment of the population. The weblink is to a pdf version of the analysis.