Baby boomers’ alcohol and other drugs use – media spotlight

December 2018

NCETA’s research examining the patterns, prevalence and impact of AOD use by people aged over 50 was recently highlighted in a feature article in the Independent Lifestyle Supplement in the South Australian Sunday Mail newspaper.

Professor Ann Roche was interviewed for the article and she provided an overview of NCETA’s research which confirms that baby boomers:

  • Have used AOD at higher rates than previous generations
  • Older people using AOD are at greater risk of harm.

The article also noted that NCETA’s recent secondary analysis of the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey data found that people aged 60 years and over mainly drank bottled wine and beer, followed by spirits and other forms of alcohol.

Other research shows that the proportion of Australians aged 50-59 who used illicit drugs in the past year increased from 6.7% in 2001 to 11.7% in 2016. Similar increases were seen among those aged 60+ during the same time period (3.9% - 6.9%).

Professor Roche reported that these findings are not unique to Australia and that similar trends are occurring in other countries.

A major consequence from higher levels of AOD use among older people is that aged care service providers are encountering more people entering their facilities with AOD problems. According to Professor Roche, “We have regular contact from people in the aged care industry who say… we know people are using cannabis in our facilities and people are wanting to use alcohol”.

The article also referenced NCETA’s Grey Matters: Preventing and responding to alcohol and other drug problems among older AustraliansInformation Sheets, which summarise NCETA’s research and provides practical advice and guidance to assist workers to respond to AOD use by older people.

The article in the Independent Lifestyle Supplement can be accessed here.

NCETA also has a related article that will be published in the January 2019 issue of the MJA.