FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- They came of age in the drug-fueled psychedelic 1960s, and faced adulthood's pressures as medications became a common way to deal with anxiety, pain and stress.
Now baby boomers are in danger of becoming the Hooked Generation as they move into old age.
State and federal statistics show the number of people in their 50s and early 60s reporting illicit drug use and seeking help with addictions skyrocketed in the past decade.
National Institutes of Health surveys show that in 2010, the most current year available, 2.4 million people ages 50-59 said they had abused prescription or illegal drugs within the past month -- almost three times as many people as reported that behavior in 2002.
The NIH has become so concerned about the rapid rise in boomer addicts that it released its first consumer alert in June on prescription and illicit drug abuse signs and dangers on its website, NIHSeniorHealth.gov. Previously, the agency's publications about drugs and seniors have focused on monitoring interactions between legally prescribed medications and how to properly take pills.
Common age-related chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes are worsened by substance abuse, especially for those who have been using for years, experts say. And addictions are far more likely to be fatal for seniors.
First Published July 1, 2012 12:00 AM