Drug Abuse on the Rise in Baby Boomers
Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, Prescription Drug Abuse Increasing in People Aged 50 and Older, Study Shows
Another SAMHSA report, from the Drug Abuse Warning Network that examines emergency room visits involving nonmedical use of narcotic medications among people aged 12 or older, says the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers is also a growing problem. The report says that:
- The estimated number of emergency department visits for narcotic pain relievers rose from 144,644 in 2004 to 305,885 in 2008, an increase of 111%.
- Emergency visits involving oxycodone and hydrocodone products, and methadone, increased 152%, 123%, and 73%, respectively, in the same time period.
Prescription pain relievers can have serious health consequences when taken without medical supervision, in larger amounts than prescribed or in combination with alcohol or other prescription or over-the-counter drugs, the DAWN report says.
Emergency department visits between 2004 and 2008 more than doubled for both male and female patients, 110% and 113% respectively. Also:
- Emergency visits for prescription drug abuse increased 113% for patients younger than 21 and 112% for people 21 and older.
- Emergency room visits increased for nonmedical use of oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, fentanyl, and hydromorphone products.
“The findings reported here highlight the need to strengthen prevention and education programs designed to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs,” the report says.
Doctors need to continue to be warned about these emerging prescription drug problems “to help them understand the importance of exercising care” in writing scripts for them, the report says.