A growing number of Floridians in their 50s are entering publicly funded substance abuse treatment programs, according to a new report. Researchers at Nova Southeastern University found there was a 37 percent increase between 2001 and 2011, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Florida residents in their 50s comprised almost 19 percent of all admissions involving sedatives in 2011, up from 6 percent in 2001.
The Florida findings mirror a national trend, according to Dr. Gayathri Dowling of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We can’t ignore that older adults are using harder substances, that we are seeing increases in emergency room visits where people present with drug abuse,” Dr. Dowling told the newspaper. “But when we think about these addictions, we tend to think about younger people. Nobody thinks to ask older people about substance abuse, and that includes their physicians.”
People now in their 50s are more likely than previous generations to be addicted to more than one substance, the article notes. In Florida, adults in that age group comprised 14 percent of those entering treatment for dual addictions in 2011, up from 4 percent in 2001.
Nationally, nearly three in 10 people between ages 57 to 85 use at least five prescriptions, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Between 1997 and 2008, the rate of hospital admissions for conditions related to prescription medications and illicit drug use rose by 96 percent among people ages 65 and 84; for people 85 and older, admissions grew 87 percent. SAMHSA notes medication misuse and abuse can cause a range of harmful side effects, including drug-induced delirium and dementia.