Drug addiction is becoming a significant public health probelm in the U.S. A U.S. government survey has estimated that the number of individuals with drug addiction problems will double to approximately 5 million, by the end of 2020.
Nearly 2.5 million Americans have been said to have encountrered substance abuse problems in 1999. The increasing inclination of elders to take drugs for sleep disorders, pain, anxiety and depression can be partly blamed for the present trend, and an increased tendency leading to substance abuse in the future.
'There is a huge concern that what we're going to be seeing is a tidal wave of seriously affected substance abusers in later life,' said Frederic Blow, associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.
The medical and emotional problems associated with advancing age is another factor. Death of friends, relatives, isolation or other similar factors can lead to substance abuse in individuals over 50 years of age. Alcohol, painkillers and anti-anxiety pills rank first, second and third when it comes to substance abuse.
Nearly 32,556 of the 495,859 emergency hospital visits in the US involved people between 55 and 64 years of age according to 2004 statistics. with respect to those above 65 years, this figure rose to 31,203, representing that drug addiction is indeed becoming a growing problem in the U.S., specifically among the aged.