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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
January/February 2010, Volume 18, Number 1 

The Aging Population and Drug Use

Drug abuse may not be associated with those who are older, but as the Nation’s population ages and the “baby boomers” —those born between 1946 and 1964—reach their 50s and 60s, statisticians are seeing a rise in drug abuse among people age 50 and above.

In fact, according to a new report from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 4.3 million adults age 50 or older, or 4.7 percent of adults in that age range, had used an illicit drug in the past year, based on data from 2006 to 2008.

Drug use was generally higher among adults in their 50s than among those over 65. Within the younger group, marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs for adults age 50 to 54 and those age 55 to 59 (6.1 versus 3.4 percent and 4.1 versus 3.2 percent, respectively).

Though the overall illicit drug use rate was lower among those age 65 or older, nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs was more common among them than marijuana use (0.8 versus 0.4 percent).

The numbers differed not only by age breakdown, but also along gender lines. Marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs among men age 50 or older (4.2 versus 2.3 percent, respectively), but among women, the rates of marijuana use and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs were similar (1.7 and 1.9 percent).

Download Illicit Drug Use among Older Adults.

Older Adults & Illicit Drug Use

Enlarge image

Chart showing rate of illicit drug use among older adults
Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies. (December 29, 2009). The NSDUH Report: Illicit Drug Use among Older Adults. Figure 1: Type of Illicit Drugs Used in the Past Year among Adults Age 50 or Older Who Used Illicit Drugs in the Past Year: 2006 to 2008. Rockville, MD.

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  Cover Story & Related Articles  

Parity: Landmark Legislation Takes Effect




  Suicide Prevention   
Grantee Highlights

Grantee Highlights

Read about activities at Tufts University and Penn State Altoona.


  A Visit to SAMHSA  

  Underage Drinking  
Game Helps Parents & Children Talk about Alcohol

Game Helps Parents & Children Talk about Alcohol

An interactive way for families to discuss the dangers of underage drinking.

State Prevention Videos

State Prevention Videos

Videos describe unique challenges and successes.


  This Emotional Life  
PBS Documentary Launches Campaign of Hope

PBS Documentary Launches Campaign of Hope

Web site includes toolkits for parents and military families.


  Teens & Young Adults  
Violent Behaviors among Teen Girls

Violent Behaviors & Teen Girls

You may think only boys get into fights. Think again . . .

Drinking after 21st Birthday

Drinking after 21st Birthday

Does turning 21 affect the amount of alcohol young people drink?


  Treatment Roundup   
Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities

Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities

Characteristics of alcohol and drug abuse treatment services.

Providing E-Therapy

Providing E-Therapy

Considerations for providers incorporating technology into treatment!

Heroin Admissions

Heroin Admissions

Find out about adolescents who received treatment for heroin use.



  Recovery Month  
Now More Than Ever

Now More Than Ever

Updated Recovery Month Web site includes new theme, Web banners, and a blog.



  In Memoriam  
Remembering Judi Chamberlin

Remembering Judi Chamberlin

SAMHSA honors a courageous advocate for the fundamental rights and dignity of people with mental illnesses.



  Also in This Issue  
National Registry Offers New Feature

National Registry Search

Evidence-based programs and comparative effectiveness.

Older Adults & Illicit Drug Use

Older Adults & Illicit Drug Use

More people over age 50 are using illicit drugs.

Science and Service Awards

Science and Service Awards

Call for applications due April 9.

Community Prevention Day

Community Prevention Day

Prevention professionals gathered for the annual event.




  


Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration – 1 Choke Cherry Road – Rockville, MD 20857
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