The Baby Boomers. A generation born between 1946-1964. The Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. In the United States, that social change marked the generation with a strong cultural cleavage, between the proponents of social change and the more conservative. Many were the rebels of their generation.
Assassinations (JFK, MLK, RFK), Vietnam, drugs, sex and rock and roll all played out during the turbulent 1960’s and the Boomers were in the center of this cultural explosion.
Yes. I’m a Boomer. One of the younger Boomers. As the world was changing daily, I was in my parochial school uniform being sheltered from the madness and violence. Yet, drugs were everywhere.
Marijuana, heroin and an assortment of designer drugs were always available.
The Boomers were the first generation to openly admit to taking drugs and “zoning out” from the conservative restrictions that the 1950’s exhalted.
So why are the Boomers once again drastically resorting to alcohol and drugs to cope with their daily lives? In some instances the surge of abuse is stemming way back to when they were in their 20’s.
Alcohol is still the leading cause of rehab in this age group, but sharp increases were noted in those needing treatment for heroin, cocaine and marijuana, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports.
“These findings show the changing scope of substance abuse problems in America,” agency administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “The graying of drug users in America is an issue for any programs and communities providing health or social services for seniors.”
While some people 50 and over were taking up drugs for the first time, notably cocaine users – the study found that three-quarters of older Americans admitted for treatment had started using drugs before the age of 25.
According to the report, the share of people treated for substance abuse who were 50 and over:
More than doubled, from 7.2 percent to 16.0 percent, for heroin.
• For cocaine abuse, nearly quadrupled from 2.9 percent to 11.4 percent.
• Rose from 0.7 percent to 3.5 percent for prescription drug abuse.
• For marijuana abuse increased from 0.6 percent to 2.9 percent
These are some very serious statistics. I actually asked a group of Boomers why they thought that drug abuse has risen so greatly. What are the stressors? Their comments:
– Caring for elderly parents who are living well into their 80’s and 90’s.
– Their children still living at home unable to find suitable employment.
– Helping to raise their grandchildren
– And an uncertain retirement future in this very unstable economy.
Are these genuine reasons to abuse alcohol and drugs? No. But I am not here to judge and life can be pretty darn hard sometimes. Luckily, there are enormous resources for those who want to live a sober life, but once again that’s up to the individual.
My fellow Boomers, we are the most innovative and culturally adept generation to exist in a long, long time. Let’s not go out in a self-induced drug haze……
Check out the slide show below on addiction.
For more information on drug addiction and education, The Hanley Center (Hanley Hazelton) in West Palm Beach, Florida offers a full range of treatment options for any age group. Here is the link: http://www.hanleycenter.org/
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