Most anti-drug campaigns are targeted toward teens, but it may be time to shift that attention to a much older crowd.
A report released Tuesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows illegal drug use by children 12-17 has decreased by 2 percent in the last decade. Adults 50-64 on the other hand, have seen a dramatic increase.
The illegal drug use rate in adults 50-54 doubled, while drug use by those 55-59-years old has more than tripled in the last decade. The 60-64 group saw a modest increase.
Eric Pettingill is a counselor at the Mental Wellness Center in Idaho Falls. He provides mental health services, including substance abuse.
"It's a significant part of our practice," said Pettingill.
The new report says the most common drugs used among adults 50 and over are marijuana and prescription drugs. Pettingill said he's noticed an increase, particularly in one area.
"The primary things are opiate dependency, a lot of people coming through have opiate problems," said Pettingill.
While the rise may be influenced by differing generations, Pettingill said the economy likely contributed to the spike in drug use.
"People are out of work or they're under-employed, so they're not making much money," said Pettingill. "Substance abuse becomes a coping mechanism."
The report was the result of a survey done by SAMHSA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services.