Substance Abuse Up Among Older U.S. Adults

WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) — The number of U.S. adults age 50 and older treated for substance abuse increased from 6.6 percent to 12.2 percent from 1992 to 2008, federal officials say.

The study, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows an increase in the proportion of older Americans’ admissions for treatment related to illicit drug abuse.

In addition, the SAMHSA study finds:

– Heroin abuse more than doubled, from 7.2 percent to 16 percent.

– Cocaine abuse quadrupled, from 2.9 percent to 11.4 percent.

– Prescription drug abuse rose from 0.7 percent to 3.5 percent.

– Marijuana abuse increased from 0.6 percent to 2.9 percent.

In 2008, cocaine abuse was the leading primary cause of admissions involving substances initiated in the previous five years — 26.2 percent — among U.S. adults age 50 and older, with prescription drug misuse a close second at 25.8 percent.

“These findings show the changing scope of substance abuse problems in America,” Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of SAMHSA said in a statement.

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