U.S. Sees Rise in Alcohol, Drug Addicts Over 50

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Older Americans are increasingly seeking treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, according to recent numbers released by the U.S. government.

Federal statistics show more than 231,000 people over the age of 50 sought treatment in 2008. That's twice as many as in 1992, while other age groups proportions were reported to be lower.

Experts pin the increases on the massive baby boom generation, which is aging. Boomers historically have a high rate of substance abuse.

The consumption of alcohol was the problem for most. However, a growing number of older people reported addictions to heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs.

"There is a level of societal denial around the issue. No one wants to look at their grandparent, no one wants to think about their grandparent or their elderly parent, and see that person as an addict," Peter Provet, the head of Odyssey House in New York, a center offering specialized substance abuse treatment programs for seniors, told the London Daily Mail.

Specialized treatment programs geared for older adults have started up across the country. However, treatment professionals believe the actual number of older people with substance abuse problems is many times larger than the amount seeking help.

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