The Boomers These Days…


Finally, a reason to cheer leading-age baby boomers:

The proportion of boomers [between the ages of 50 and 60] who reported using an illegal drug in the past month rose from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent last year, a 63 percent leap, the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health says.

In contrast, past-month use by those ages 12 to 17 fell from 11.6 percent to 9.9 percent during the same three-year period, a drop of 15 percent.

Proving, among other things, that kids are incredibly creative when it comes to ways of disappointing their elders.

Or, if you take the word of the drug czar's Ed McMahon, that boomers are still trapped on a muddy hillside at Yasgur's Farm:

"They smoked weed at Woodstock, and they are still smoking weed," said David Murray, special assistant to the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, pointing out that marijuana accounts for 70 percent of the boomers' illegal drug use…."They brought it with them like baggage when they hit 50 and 60. So they have rates of use that are starting to stand out as persistent."

More here.

And even as Murray praises the kids these days ("The patterns of self-destruction are so much lower in this generation coming in….This augurs well for the future of public health in America"), let's not forget that some of the younger generation are not all that responsible.

Flashback to the Past: Go here for Monitoring the Future survey results about past-month drug use among 12th graders since 1975 (a year or so before today's 50 year olds would have gradjiated, but the first year of that survey). You'll see that 27 percent of 12th graders in 1975 said they'd smoked pot in the past month, a figure that would climb to 37 percent in 1978 before starting a long slow, somewhat uneven decline to 2004's 20 percent.

And then slide down the results a bit to check out the past-month-booze-usage rates for comparison. These figures also show a general decline, from 68 percent in 1975 to 48 percent in 2004.

As long as we're taking a trip down Boomer Blvd. in the Memory Lane subdivision, let's make something clear: Don't blame LSD for Dianne Linkletter's death.

Full National Survey of Drug Use and Health online here.

Jacob Sullum points out that the NSDUH's meth picture cuts against the hysteria of the past several years here.

Bonus blast from Reason's past: Back before he went to work at the drug czar's office, David Murray co-authored the excellent book It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality. We liked the tome so much, we dubbed Murray "Dudley Do-Math." Read a short Q&A with him here.

NEXT: Buckley Goes Poppies, Pops Afghan Question

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  1. It’s the reefers that are outliving the teetotalers, thereby increasing the stats because the non-users are dying off.

  2. Knowing the greedy boomers, they’ll have laws in place in 20 years giving them “medical” marijuana as part of their Medicare coverage.

    Not that that’s such a bad thing….

  3. Wonder if that has anything to do with declining numbers:
    In 1975 I might have admitted to doing the evil weed. There wasn’t a perception of strict prosecution. But nowadays? I’d never admit it. Might be facing 10-20 or at a minimum financial ruin.

  4. “The patterns of self-destruction are so much lower in this generation coming in….”

    Did Murray miss the first part? The self-destruction is fairly slow-motion, considering the boomer numbers.

  5. Perhaps the feds ought to get into the “hot dose” business, so we can kill off a sufficient number of boomers to save social security.

  6. These studies continue to sloppily report “binge drinking” as >4 (for an average man) or >3 (for an average woman) standard drinks at any session, when the latest iteration of the definition takes time into account.

    What is binge drinking?

    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or above. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to more than 4 drinks on a single occasion for men or more than 3 drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours

    Source: NIAAA Newsletter 2004; 3: (.pdf )

    National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking (PDF?1.6Mb) NIAAA Newsletter 2004; 3:

    I don’t trust these guys to toss pianos, let alone crunch numbers.


  7. Oops. That binge drinking definition was from NIAAA, but is suspiciously gone from its site. The quote I used is from a FAQ provided by the CDC.

    (Sober as a judge. It isn’t yet 5 p.m. on CDT.)

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