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Examination of Trends in Illicit Drug Use Among Adults Aged 50 to 59 in the United States

NCJ Number
228118
Author(s)
Beth Han; Joseph Gfroerer; James Colliver
Date Published
August 2009
Length
10 pages
Annotation
This report presents the most recent trends, patterns, and characteristics of illicit drug use among persons aged 50 to 59 in the United States.
Abstract
Recent trends show increases in illicit drug use, marijuana use, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs in the past year among persons aged 50 to 59 in the United States between 2002 and 2007, which was driven primarily by the aging of the baby boom cohort. In addition, the results indicate that almost 90 percent of past year users initiated drug use before age 30, with initiation after age 50 being extremely rare. About one in seven lifetime drug users used drugs in the past year at age 50 to 59. Characteristics associated with continued use of illicit drugs among persons aged 50 to 59 were male, unmarried, early age of drug initiation, living in the West region, having low education and income, unemployed due to disability, using alcohol and tobacco in the past year, having past year major depressive episode, and rarely attending religious services. These results show the United States facing a challenge in reducing drug use and treating drug use in this segment of the population. The increase in illicit drug use among persons aged 50 to 59 and their potential future treatment needs has become a growing public health concern. The purpose of this report was (1) to present the most recent trends in the prevalence of illicit drug use among this age group, (2) to examine whether the increase in illicit drug use was driven by the aging of cohorts with high rates of use or an increase in use within cohorts, (3) to investigate how much of the increase in illicit drug use among persons in this age group was due to initiation, continuing use, and resumption of use, and (4) to examine the characteristics associated with past year illicit drug use among lifetime users aged 50 to 59. Figures, tables, and references