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.
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.