Many of the baby boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — used mind-altering drugs such as marijuana and LSD during their formative years, and many of them never quit.
In 2011, boomers began turning 65. That being the case, we can expect an increase in the number of older adults who are abusing drugs.
Although you might assume that older people who abuse drugs simply can’t give them up, the recovery rates for people 65 and older in drug treatment programs is actually better than the rates for those under 65.
In addition, older people often take multiple prescription medications, putting them at greater
risk for abuse of those medicines.
Alcoholism is also a major problem for older adults. Because of age-related physical changes, they have more difficulty metabolizing and excreting drugs and alcohol than younger people.
Their brain receptors can also be more sensitive to the effects.
The American Geriatrics Society and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define risky drinking in people 65 or older as having more than seven alcoholic drinks each week, or more than three drinks on any day.
Chronic illnesses and drug interactions can also increase an older person’s sensitivity to drugs and alcohol, complicating treatments for medical conditions that are common in the elderly.
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