Dr. Barbara Krantz is the CEO of the Hanley Center, which is promoting its “Center for Boomer Recovery.”
Featured on the "CBS Early Show," The New York Times, and "Huffington Post," Dr. Krantz makes the case for her company’s age-specific drug rehab center dedicated to people aged 50 and older, colloquially known as the “baby boomers.”
On her website under the heading “Realities of Boomer Addiction,” Dr. Krantz explains “Alcohol and prescription drugs, or both, are baby boomers’ substances of choice, yet illegal drug use may have continued or resurfaced from their youth.” The New York Times adds, “According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, use of illegal substances is increasing in adults over 50.” "Huffington Post" warns that “for adults aged 50 to 54, the percentage of consumers of illicit substances more than doubled from 3.4% in 2002 to 7.2% last year. For those aged 55 to 59, it more than tripled from 1.9% to 6.6%.”
A look at the facts belies Dr. Krantz’ rent-seeking exaggeration. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health publishes all its data online and HIGH TIMES decided to look at the numbers for people in their 50s. Once again we find that cannabis generates most of the increase of which Dr. Krantz wants us to be frightened.
In the survey numbers, there is a variable called “Illicit drug other than marijuana.” When we look at that data, in 2004-2005 we find that 4.1% of all boomers aged 50-54 and 1.9% of those aged 55-59 used something illegal other than pot. By 2010-2011, the 50-54 number increased to 5.8% and the 55-59 number increased to 3.7%. In other words, if you leave out cannabis, annual illicit drug use didn’t “double” from age 50-54, it went up by less than half (41%). Annual illicit drug use didn’t “triple” from age 55-59, it just almost doubled.
However, if we restrict the drugs surveyed to the variable for “pain relievers, past month use,” we do find some alarming numbers for baby boomers. For ages 50-54, monthly pain reliever use did almost double, from 0.8% in 2002-2003 to 1.5% for 2010-2011. At ages 55-59, the numbers again almost doubled from 0.4% to 0.7% over the same time frame.
Most of Dr. Krantz’s fear-mongering owes to cannabis. More boomers are using cannabis, with the double the rate of 50-54-year-olds (2.5% to 4.9%) and triple the rate of 55-59-year-olds (1.1% to 3.7%) using marijuana monthly. Maybe instead of demonizing the baby boomers who have rekindled their relationship with Mary Jane, we ought to encourage it and bring down those monthly pain reliever numbers.