Treatment Admissions Way Up for Older Americans

The excesses of the Baby Boomer generation are starting to show up at the door of U.S. treatment programs, which saw admissions of patients ages 50 and older almost double between 1992 and 2008.

Patients over age 50 comprised 12.2 percent of all treatment admissions in 2008, up from 6.6 percent in 1992, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Admissions for heroin use among this age group more than doubled, cocaine admissions quadrupled, and significant increases in older Americans seeking treatment for prescription drugs and marijuana also were reported.

Most of those seeking help had started using their primary substance of abuse prior to age 25, but an increasing number said they had only started using drugs like cocaine or prescription medications within the past five years. More older Americans also are reporting problems with multiple substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications.

The findings are reported in Changing Substance Abuse Patterns among Older Admissions: 1992 and 2008.

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