The Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is associated with youthful drug experimentation and abuse. As the Boomers age, an increasing number are experiencing drug addiction disorders that require hospitalization or inpatient drug rehab.
According to a recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), drug abuse among Baby Boomers is on the rise. The SAMHSA study, which focused on the years between 1992 and 2008, found that admission for inpatient drug rehab nearly doubled for people age 55 and older. The substances being abused by this age group include prescription drugs as well as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs.
While hospital admissions for alcohol abuse have decreased for older Americans since 1992, admissions for cocaine and prescription drug abuse have quadrupled. Of greatest concern is the fact that a significant number of Baby Boomers are seeking treatment for multiple substance abuse issues. For the most part these are not new addictions. Many members of the Woodstock generation have abused drugs for decades and consider drugs to be an essential part of their identity. However, as they age they find themselves experiencing health problems and psychological issues that are compounded by their drug use.
Government projections indicate that the number of seniors who are considered to have a substance abuse problem is expected to grow from 1.7 million in 2011 to 4.4 million in 2020. It has been estimated that twice as many inpatient drug rehab facilities will be needed over the next decade to handle the influx of older substance abusers. The SAMHSA report also found that many inpatient drug rehab facilities are ill-prepared for an increase in the number of senior citizens seeking treatment. In addition to providing drug rehabilitation services, these facilities will need to treat the full range of health issues that are experienced by senior citizens.