Baby Boomers Are Getting High – A Lot!

Baby Boomer Smoking Marijuana

Baby Boomers are getting high more than most people think, with many even abusing multiple substances at the same time.

Roughly one in seven Americans aged 50 to 64 take marijuana for recreational purposes, while one in 40 takes prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes, according to a 2012 survey conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA).

The increase in the number of Baby Boomers getting high over the last two or so decades is well documented, and it has led to an accompanying increase in the number of senior-specific rehab facilities in the US.

Alcohol is by far the most widely abused drug by Boomers and the general population as a whole, though differing definitions of what counts as alcohol abuse makes it difficult to give an exact figure. However, it can be said that 67 percent of Boomers consume alcohol regularly, according to the same SAMHDA survey.

As mentioned earlier, marijuana and prescription painkillers are the next most widely abused substances by Baby Boomers, with 7.3 percent and 2.5 percent admitting to taking each, respectively.

Stronger drugs like tranquilizer, cocaine and crack aren’t as widely used among this particular demographic, but the usage levels are nevertheless a cause for concern, with 1.4 percent admitting to taking tranquilizer, 0.87 percent using cocaine, and 0.36 percent taking crack.

Interestingly, the same survey found that as a general rule, Boomers who take drugs tend to take more than younger drug users.

Why Are Baby Boomers Getting High?

There are various factors that are responsible for the increase in the number of Baby Boomers who are getting high and abusing alcohol. In many cases, Boomers start taking drugs because of recent developments in their lives – like a spouse or parent passing away for instance – or because they are having difficulty adjusting to life as a retiree.

Not having any close family or friends can also be an issue, as it can make some Boomers feel very isolated and be tempted to experiment with drugs. It also makes it much harder to get treatment, as there’s no one there to identify that they have a drug abuse problem and support and encourage them to seek treatment.

In some cases, Boomers may be getting high not because of any of these factors, but simply because they have been taking drugs for a long time.

Should I Go to Rehab?

Whether you only started taking drugs and getting high once you entered retirement or have been abusing drugs for several decades, it’s never too late to seek help and get treatment.

Going to rehab gives you the best chances of success, especially if you go to a facility that is focused on helping seniors beat addiction. However, rehab isn’t for everyone, as it can be very expensive and some people may prefer to try to get treated just with the support of their family and friends.

Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to explore all of your treatment options and to at least consider going to rehab, particularly if you’re addicted to a hard drug or have a serious alcohol problem.

You can learn more about getting treated for substance abuse and explore affordable rehab facilities for seniors in this article of ours.

A Quick Summary

  • Baby Boomers are getting high more than you probably think, and many even abuse multiple substances at the same time.
  • Roughly one in seven Americans aged 50 to 64 take marijuana for recreational purposes, according to a SAMHDA survey.
  • There are many reasons why Boomers get high, including long-term addiction to a certain drug or suddenly experimenting with drugs to escape an unpleasant reality.
  • The increase in the number of Baby Boomers getting high over the last two or so decades has led to a sharp increase in the number of senior-specific rehab facilities in the US.
  • These facilities are tailored to provide seniors with the best care and give them the best chances of successfully beating their addiction.
  • However, some Boomers may prefer to try to get treated just with support from their loved ones. 
David Goldstein
David launched Boomer Buyer Guides with his wife Alice to provide Baby Boomers with trustworthy, well-researched information about products and services that Baby Boomers buy. Learn more about David Goldstein