While the campaign to help stop teenage drug use is still in full swing and is leading to a reduction in adolescent alcohol and drug use, there is a new age group that is becoming a high-risk population. The baby boomer generation is showing an increase in both alcohol and marijuana consumption over recent years.
A recent study showed that rates of marijuana use in adults aged 50 to 64 increased 57.8% from 2006 to 2013 and in those aged 65 the percentage skyrocketed 250.
Findings from the national survey on drug use and health
Racial statistics: While both white and black Americans share the same percentage of use among adults aged 50 and older at 5.1 percent, the Hispanic population showed fewer older adults use marijuana by coming in at just 2.6%
Marital status: Statistics showed that adults over 50 who were widowed or single are significantly more likely to indulge in an occasional toke than their married and divorced counterparts. Single adults came in at 8.5 percent, widows were close behind at 8.1, and married users rang in at 4 percent. The lowest category of use was divorced or separated adults, who were only 1.6 percent.
Health issues: Those over 50 who suffered from depression or experienced symptoms of anxiety were significantly more likely to light up a joint to relieve their symptoms. This statistic is concerning to researchers due to the possible links between marijuana use and mental health disorders. While after the introduction of medical marijuana there has been a drop in Medicare prescription reimbursements, the survey did not differentiate between medical and recreational users, so it is unknown how many users surveyed smoke to relieve physical problems or ailments.
Other factors: Adults with less than a high school education as well as those who brought in an income of less than $20,000 annually were more likely to be marijuana users.
Whether it is nostalgia, an attempt to return to the days of their youth or to help cope with mental or physical problems this trending increase in marijuana use is expected to continue for years to come.
Alcohol use among baby boomers
Another study put out by the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal tracked the increase in alcohol use in the baby boomer generation. This study showed that while more adults over 50 may be smoking pot, the drug of choice still trends to alcohol.
One of the biggest concerns among researchers was the significant increase in binge drinking that adults over 50 indulge in. Binge drinking, which is characterized as consuming more than five drinks on one occasion, has shown a steady increase in the past decade with a whopping 14.6 percent of all individuals surveyed admitting to binge drinking within the previous month.
When it comes to binge drinking, what is the breakdown?
- Racial and marriage stats: Quite the opposite of marijuana use, binge drinking was found to be more prevalent among Hispanics than any other ethnic group. While there were high rates of binge drinking among those who are single, divorced people were the highest level of binge drinkers with 18.6 percent, followed by married drinkers at 14.6, and widowers at 8.6.
- Gender: The survey showed that older men are considered twice as likely to binge drink as women, but with the steady increase in the number of female binge drinkers, that gap may begin to close. Within the past decade, female binge drinking has risen by 44 percent.
How intoxicating substances can affect the older generation
While consumption of intoxicants can cause risks at any age, older consumers may be at risk for more problems. Adults over 50 are more likely to be prescribed medication that can interact with marijuana or alcohol such as painkillers or antidepressants. The risk of complications from falls also increases with age, and taking a tumble after a night of indulging may result in more severe consequences for those who are older.
Check out our website for more information about criminal defense representation for drug and alcohol- related charges. .