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Drug Addiction Reappearing in the Boomers

By: Carol Morriscey

Mid-life, filled with responsibilities and sobriety, has passed for the baby boomers, and many are returning to the drug use which defined their youth.Baby Boomers’ Addictions

As a generation, the baby boomers have had greater exposure to drugs than any other generation, before or after them. However, as adulthood and midlife approached their responsibilities grew and their drug use paused for several decades. Yet, as retirement approaches for many and responsibilities wane, drug use in the baby boomers is on the rise again. Over the past decade there has been a sharp increase in baby boomer’s emergency room visits related to drug use, specifically marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. The typical drugs of use in this second wave of addiction in baby boomers are prescription opioids and benzodiazepines. The generational characteristics, as well as the current lifestyles of aging baby boomers create dangerous circumstances for the reemerging addictions of their youth.

Generational Effects

Coming of age while recreational and experimental drug use was the norm has fostered a lenient and relaxed view of drug use in the baby boomer generation. Historically, baby boomer’s drug use is relatively high, with almost half of all baby boomers born between 1948 and 1952 using illicit drugs in their lifetime. The previous experience and permissive views regarding drug use in this generation puts them at specific risk for the reemergence of drug use and addictions in their later years.

How Aging Increases the Risk of Addiction

With aging comes an increased risk of drug addiction. One particular social factor which contributes to the risk of a reemerging addiction in baby boomers is social isolation. As more boomers retire, their children move out, and their other obligations come to an end, they are more likely to become socially isolated. This isolation may allow a threatening addiction to fully develop. Other factors, such as coping with the loss of loved ones may lead to drug addiction.

Further, changes in health may contribute to an addiction. With illnesses and chronic pain becoming more prevalent as the baby boomer generation ages, prescription medication use will increase. Many drug addictions begin with a legitimate prescription, and develop into dependence and addiction. This is especially true for opioid prescriptions commonly used over long periods of time for chronic pain.

Finally, as boomers age their body’s metabolism slows down. As a result, they are not able to break down the drugs at the same rate they were able to at one time. A dose of a drug which was tolerated at a younger age can no longer be tolerated by the body. This poses several risks. It increases the likelihood of dependence and addiction, as well as increasing the risk of overdosing. Therefore, the changes which occur as a result of aging increase the risk of drug addiction and the negative consequences of this addiction.

Seeking Drug Addiction Treatment

Despite the fact that aging baby boomers are at specific risk for drug addiction, there is good news. Older adults typically have higher rates of success and lower rates of relapse after attending drug rehab or drug addiction treatment.

Unfortunately, there are difficulties in identifying a drug addiction in older adults, as they do not meet the typical profile of a drug user. Therefore, knowledge of the unique signs of addiction in older adults is important in identifying and treating a possible addiction.

As drug use and addiction in the baby boomers continues to rise, Sobriety Home is prepared to help these individuals regain their sobriety. Our personalized approach to treatment provides a unique treatment plan for each patient, making sure their experience at our drug rehab is comfortable and effective, putting an end to their addiction once and for all.

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