The Baby Boomer Effect: Changing Patterns of Substance Abuse Among Adults Ages 55 and Older

Duncan & Associates, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA.
Journal of Aging & Social Policy (Impact Factor: 0.6). 07/2010; 22(3):237-48. DOI: 10.1080/08959420.2010.485511
Source: PubMed


Between now and 2030, the number of adults aged 65 and older in the United States will almost double, from around 37 million to more than 70 million, an increase from 12% of the U.S. population to almost 20%. It was long held that, with only a few isolated exceptions, substance abuse simply did not exist among this population. In light of the impact of the baby boom generation, this assumption may no longer be valid. The authors examined admissions of persons 55 years and older (n = 918,955) from the Treatment Episode Data Set (1998-2006). Total admissions with a primary drug problem with alcohol have remained relatively stable over this time. Admissions for problems with a primary drug other than alcohol have shown a steady and substantial increase. Clearly, data from the Treatment Episode Data Set indicate a coming wave of older addicts whose primary problem is not alcohol. The authors suspect that this wave is led primarily by the continuing emergence of the baby boomer generation.

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