Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drug Use As the Summer of Love Generation Ages

This just in. Researchers report that the Woodstock generation uses more drugs than the generation before it.

From CBS News:
America's drug abusers are going gray.

The proportion of people admitted to treatment for drug abuse who are aged 50 or over nearly doubled between 1992 and 2008, a new government study says.

Alcohol is still the leading cause of admissions 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 Wednesday.

"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 age 25. Drug Abuse Admissions Up Among People Over 50

So it's not that old people are discovering drugs, it's that drug users are getting old. Really, they could have reported this story nearly opposite; instead of saying the over-50's increased, they could have said that those who started using these drugs at a younger age are still using them.

I admit I am a little surprised to find a significant number of older cocaine users saying they had started using that drug recently. As a young musician I noticed that cocaine has a tendency to destroy your life, I knew a lot of skinny, hyperactive, paranoid guitar players and drummers who crashed their cars a lot and didn't have a place to live. I had thought our generation tried cocaine in the seventies and eighties and eventually figured out the stuff was not good for you.

On the other hand, I am not surprised if my generation discovers that some of the stuff that gets prescribed for these new aches and pains can have a euphoric side effect.

It is notable that this study looks at people who are admitted for treatment for heroin, cocaine, and marijuana abuse, which may or may not reflect the prevalence of actual use. That means that either their addiction was ruining their lives, or they suffered an acute episode, aka OD, or they got logged into the criminal justice system and had to go into a program. Tell me, how many people OD on marijuana? I'm a little skeptical about some of this.

This government administrator mentions the issues involved for health-care providers. I suppose there are medical questions to figure out, like how different kinds of dope interact with blood pressure medicine, cholesterol meds, the over-50s are tossing down handfuls of prescribed pills every morning, you throw something unprescribed on top of that and what have you got? And now I am trying to picture how some of these things would work with Viagra ... never mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Sarah Palin doesn't favor legalization of pot. But in a recent appearance with Rep. Ron Paul on the Fox Business Network
, the half-term former governor of Alaska sounded ... sensible. She said that while she opposes legalization--we don't want to encourage kids to try it--she thinks that the police probably have more important things to do than bust adults who quietly toking up in the privacy of their own homes.

Here's what she said:

Well, if we’re talking about pot, I’m not for the legalization of pot because I think that that would just encourage, especially, our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it. And I’m not an advocate for that. However, I think that we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts. And if somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things that our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems that we have in society that are appropriate for law enforcement to do and not concentrate on such a, relatively speaking, minimal problem that we have in the country.

Pot as a minimal problem? But ambivalent about legalization? Is it possible Sarah Palin and I agree on something? Talk about feeling like I'm in an altered state.

June 20, 2010 12:21 AM  

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