With more lax attitudes toward marijuana use and growing legalization, it’s perhaps not too surprising that more middle-aged adults are using pot. According to a recent study, 9 percent of adults aged 50-64 and nearly 3 percent of adults 65 and older reported using marijuana in the past year. The new findings were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers from NYU School of Medicine and the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing found a substantial increase in marijuana use over the past near-decade – the percentage of pot users ages 50-64 doubled and those 65 and older reported a seven-fold increase. The study included 17,608 adults who took the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Participants answered questions about their tobacco, alcohol and drug use in addition to providing demographic information and details about their overall health.

What’s more, 15 percent of users ages 50-64 and 22.9 percent of those 65 and older smoked pot on the advisement of a doctor, demonstrating the substantial use of marijuana for medical purposes,

“We’re now in a new era of changing attitudes around marijuana, and as stigma declines and access improves, it appears that baby boomers – many of whom have prior experience smoking marijuana – are increasingly using it,” said lead author Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care and Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

A concerning finding from the study was the correlation between marijuana use and the misuse of other unhealthy substances, including alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and prescription drugs (opioids and sedatives). This is particularly concerning because mixing pot with other drugs can lead to greater health risks. For example, simultaneously using marijuana and alcohol can be detrimental for cognitive and motor functioning, according to researchers who suggest that clinicians screen older patients for multiple drug use to ensure they are educated on the potential risks.

Guardian’s Older Adult Track
If you’re a middle-aged adult struggling with a substance use disorder, we can help. Our Older Adult Program aims to help adults over the age of 40 recover from substance use disorder using therapies that speak to this specific treatment population’s unique needs and concerns. To learn more, call today: 855-517-1871.


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Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.