Why Boomers Determined That Drink And Drugs Are Not Just The Follies Of Youth
The headline was click bait to anyone interested in the excesses, or perhaps the quite normal behaviour, of baby boomers given their rampant history with drugs.
“A 60-year-old woman was among more than 20 ageing boppers arrested for possessing ecstasy or cocaine on their way to a music festival starring Boy George at Sydney’s Ivy nightclub on the weekend,” ran the Daily Telegraph.
Despite the curiosity of who these people were and what they looked like, the oldest only being described as a “ Paddington woman”, we should not be surprised at such a bust.
Figures here and overseas clearly show the boomers have higher rates of use of alcohol and other drugs than previous generations and are also at greater risk of harm.
Australian research shows the number of those aged 50-59 who used illicit drugs in the past 12 months climbed from 6.7% in 2001 to 11.7% by 2016. Those aged 60 plus recorded similar increases.
Drugs use is even prevalent in aged care facilities, with some residents caught using cannabis.
While this cohort grew up in an age of proud and casual drug use as their responsibilities grew they eased off the grass and grog. But in the past decade as they have aged, coupled with a more lenient and relaxed attitudes to drugs, many have started using again.
The factors for this are said to include a greater feeling of social isolation, less responsibility after retirement, the self-medication of chronic conditions and even the loss of loved ones.
One of the risk factors, as even the casual boozer might observe as they age, is that our systems can’t process the same hammering you once gave it. Our metabolisms may have slowed but our appetites for these indulgences might not have followed suit.
Meanwhile alcohol and drug use is actually decreasing amongst younger age groups. Now one in four of those in their fifties drink at risky levels which is more than five standard drinks in a session.
The fact older people are living longer due to better medical care and have more disposable income than before also means they can drink and take drugs more heavily and for longer.
According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey between 2004-2013 cannabis use among the over 50s more than doubled.
It’s admitted that not all older people have problems with their regime of drinks and drugs but for those who do suffer harm treatments for abuse are just as effective as for the young.
Older drinkers and drug users are now a priority group in our National Drug Strategy so maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised when some ‘ageing boppers’ are picked up carrying drugs to a Boy George concert.
PS: All references here are to the baby boomers in aggregate and NOT you personally. You may never have taken drugs or certainly do not do so now. However the figures speak for themselves a good proportion of our cohort are getting drunk and stoned regularly and don’t think it’s that unusual.
Any advice contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your particular objectives, personal circumstances or needs. If in doubt about your own situation you should seek appropriate advice.