Okay, here we are the baby boomers (let's call ourselves the "BB's"), as we are not so much babies any more - we range in age from 49 to 67... and yes, that includes me. We, the BB's, according to the data, use significant amounts of illicit substances – and no I don't mean just "pot" which is a whole other topic. Drug abuse is surging among BB's - for adults aged 50 to 54, use of illicit substances more than doubled from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012. For those aged 55 to 59, it's at about 6.6 percent. And what is the most commonly abused drug in the over 50 age group – not weed but a combination of opiates (codeine, oxycodone, other pain pills), and benzodiazepines (valium, ativan, other tranquilizers) with alcohol.
So that's our problem and we better deal with it or expect an array of medical complications! But how about our kids when they were teenagers? What messages did we send? We were influenced by Vietnam, Woodstock, the Free Love Era of the 60's – you know – to hell with the establishment! Did that carry over to how we raised our kids? Did you ever struggle with your kid's best friend's parent buying or smoking weed with your own kid? Did you openly smoke some pot yourself, so the messages you gave to your kids were confusing at best and duplicitous at worst? And now, how are our kids raising our grandchildren – what messages are now being sent?
Even if we are not partially to blame for the current drug use, that does not mean we should just sit back. Heroin is so pure, you can snort it and get high; no need for needles. Molly's (MDMA) the party drug is ubiquitous. Our grandchildren are stealing our codeines and valiums from our medicine cabinets – and do we even have a clue this is happening? We all talk about the financial deficit we are leaving our grandchildren. How about the health deficit. It is time to get out of our rocking chairs and take some action – to hell with "I just don't like confrontation" – take that expression to the grave with you! Grammy, Gramps: the time to act is now. Just saying "No" doesn't work – never did! Get involved and stay involved – and count your pills every day – for your sake and for the sake of your kids' kids!
Please pass along your thoughts – we are all in this together! And if you read Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine, let me know if you think Dr. Sedgwick made the right decisions of how he raised his son Jimmy, who became a heroin addict and later in life was accused of murdering Annette.
Thanks for reading this,
Steven Kassels, M.D.