Some moms and dads might want to take a lesson from their kids: Just say no.
The recently released National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 4.4 percent of baby boomers ages 50 to 59 admitted that they had used illicit drugs within the past month. This marks the third consecutive yearly increase recorded for that age group. Meanwhile, illicit drug use among young teens decreased for the third consecutive year – from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.9 percent in 2005.
“Rarely have we seen a story like this where one generation exits stage right while entering stage left is a generation that somehow learned a lesson and is doing something very different,” says David Murray, Assistant Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The annual survey interviewed 67,500 people and provides an important snapshot of how many Americans drink, smoke and use drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.
Overall, drug use remained relatively unchanged among Americans 12 and older in 2005. About 19.7 million Americans reported that they had used an illicit drug in the past month, which represents an increase from 7.9 to 8.1 percent. The increase was not only due to the boomers – an increase was also seen among those 18-25. Among the 18-25 group, drug use rose from 19.4 to 20.1 percent. “This contrast between young teens and baby boomers is a culture change and welcome news for our nation’s well-being,” said John Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “However the real test will occur when these younger teens enter that dangerous 18-25 year category.
The boomers’ statistics is further complicated by a recent study published in the Journal of Labor Research, which finds that adult drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more money at their jobs than their non-drinking colleagues. “Social drinking builds social capital,” says lead researcher Edward Stringham. “Social drinkers are networking, building relationships and adding contacts that result in bigger paychecks.” But critics have been quick to attack the study’s conclusion. “It’s not the drinking that gets more money – it’s the socializing,” is the primary retort.

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