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According to New York University, there is a common misperception that widespread marijuana use is limited to younger generations. However, the reality is that the Baby Boomer generation has reported higher rates of substance use than any preceding generation.
“Given the unprecedented aging of the U.S. population, we are facing a never before seen cohort of older adults who use recreational drugs,” says Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and health services researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYU Langone).
“With the increased availability of legalized marijuana, there is an urgent need to understand the prevalence of its use and also its effects among older generations,” continued Dr. Han.
The researchers evaluated responses from 47,140 adults aged 50 and older in the United States through a secondary analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2006 to 2013.
The authors found a 71% increase in marijuana use among adults aged 50 and older between 2006 and 2013. Adults ages 65 and older had a significantly lower prevalence of marijuana use compared to those ages 50-64, but the prevalence of use increased two and a half times over eight years. The report concludes that, overall, prevalence was higher among men than women through all years.