Drug abuse booming with Baby Boomers

By Inquirer Staff Writer Marie McCullough:

A new federal report shows a boom in hospital admissions for medication misuse and illicit drug abuse as Baby Boomers approach old age.

Hospital admissions among Americans ages 45 and older for drug-related conditions — both prescription and illegal use — doubled between 1997 and 2008, according to the report released Monday by federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

By 2005, all members of the Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 to 1964) were age 40 or older.

Betweem 1997 and 2008, admissions for all medication and drug-related conditions grew by 117 percent – from 30,100 to 65,400 – for 45- to 64-year-olds.

Hospital admissions were driven by three types of conditions: delirium induced by drugs for such problems as insomnia, incontinence, or nausea; overdose by codeine, meperidine and other opiate-based pain medicines; and withdrawal from narcotic or non-narcotic drugs.

Although the admissions rate grew the most for middle-aged and late-middle aged Americans, the rate for elderly people closely followed. Admissions grew by 96 percent for ages 65 to 84, and by 87 percent for people ages 85 and older.

In contrast, the number of drug-related hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent.

“This report reveals a disturbing trend, and we need to find out more about why these admissions are increasing,” said AHRQ director Carolyn M. Clancy. “As the average age of hospital patients continues to increase, so does the need for close monitoring of the types and dosages of drugs given to them.”

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