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Baby Boomers and Addiction

A baby boomers thinking about baby boomers and addiction

Baby boomers and addiction are closely related. Buy why? First, let’s explain this demographic. Defined as people born between 1946 and 1964, the baby boomer generation makes up 30% of the population in the U.S. If the retirement age is 65, we can assume that most baby boomers are still working, still earning wages. In fact, an estimated 10,000 baby boomers will be retiring every day until 2029.

The term baby boomer generation derives its name from the radical spike in births at the end of World War II. This generation has been closely linked to consumerism and advertising efforts as the boom in births immediately led to an increase in the need for baby care goods as well as a high demand for consumer goods.

Because of the enormity of this population group, it is no surprise that boomers are highly susceptible to the drug epidemic in our society. The rise in substance abuse in the baby boomer demographic presents unique challenges both to the medical and addiction specialist community. To learn more about addiction treatment, call us today at 760.548.4032.

Baby Boomers and Addiction

Baby boomers are using drugs at higher rates than teens. According to government estimates, more than 5.7 million people over the age of 50 will need substance abuse treatment by 2020.

Many factors influence substance abuse in baby boomers. The de-stigmatization of drugs in the ’60s and ’70s left a more permissible perspective on drug use in this generation, even than in more recent generations. In addition,  substance abuse and addiction may not be as readily detected in older individuals, which makes it critical for baby boomers to understand the realities of drug abuse and addiction facing their generation.

Baby Boomers and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a major concern for the baby boomer generation. In 2015–16 alone, over half a million individuals aged 55–74 were hospitalized due to alcohol-related issues. Detecting secret drinking can be challenging as warning signs may not be obvious.

Excessive alcohol consumption in older adults presents unique medical challenges due to slower alcohol metabolism. Less alcohol in older individuals can be more detrimental to health than in younger individuals. Alcohol abuse in the elderly community affects every aspect of their lives.

Long-term heavy alcohol use is associated with:

  • Increased major illnesses
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Poor perception of health
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Smaller social networks

Unfortunately, many individuals hide their drinking from loved ones and healthcare professionals. Sensitivity to substance abuse issues is crucial for older populations.

Prescription Drug Abuse

On the topic of prescription drug abuse in older populations, it’s not difficult to connect the dots and see that access to painkiller (opiate/opioid) prescriptions, and the life stress of aging creates a perfect storm for prescription pill abuse. The stress that can cause alcohol abuse is similar to that which can lead to prescription drug abuse. According to one source, the rate of illicit drug abuse in adults over 50 has more than doubled between 2002 and 2013.

Some of the most commonly abused drugs among baby boomers are opiate painkillers (such as OxyContin and hydrocodone) and benzodiazepine sedatives (such as Xanax and Klonopin). Baby boomers and older generations have a high degree of access to these prescription drugs. For instance, though senior citizens comprise only 13% of the population as a whole, they consume approximately 33% of all prescription drugs.

Despite the high prevalence of prescription drugs in the medicine cabinets of baby boomers and older populations, there appears to be little to no large-scale educational efforts devoted to the prevention of abuse. The misconception that age brings wisdom may be preventing seniors from getting important advice on the dangers of prescription drugs.

How Treatment From Michael’s House Can Help

The baby boomer generation may be the least likely to seek substance abuse treatment due to retirement plans and providing support to adult children and grandchildren. They may resist asking for help from family members and believe they can control their drinking or medication abuse. Though they are aware of available help, knowing when and how to ask for it is problematic.

Here’s the good news: Michael’s House is here to help. If you’re concerned about substance abuse, call now to speak with our admissions counselors. Your health is paramount, and this call is completely free. Take the important first step for yourself or a loved one, and we’ll assist you. No assumptions, just facts from trained professionals who understand how you feel. Reach out today at 760.548.4032.