Alarming Statistics: Baby Boomers Overuse Prescription Drugs

Drugs- Rebel Retirement

Long gone are the 1960s days of flower power and counterculture hippies.

However, it seems that my generation still has a penchant for drugs, although the types of drugs have evolved.

Prescription drugs like Adderall, Prozac, and Vicodin have replaced the recreational drugs of the past, such as LSD and Mescaline.

So, why exactly are baby boomers turning to prescription drugs in such high numbers?

Let’s delve into that question and explore the potential drawbacks.

Why are boomers taking so many prescription drugs?

As baby boomers age and enter retirement, many experience feelings of loneliness or physical pain. Turning to alcohol and prescription drugs becomes a way to alleviate these struggles.

There are numerous websites, including SAMSHA, Forbes, DrugAbuse, and NPR, that offer comprehensive insights into why boomers are increasingly using drugs.

Let’s take a look at some statistics gathered from these sources:

The percentages of baby boomers using prescription drugs:

  • An overwhelming majority of Americans aged 50+ (85%) confirm that they have taken a prescription drug in the past five years, with three-fourths (76%) currently taking at least one prescription drug regularly.

  • When it comes to gender, women (79%) are slightly more likely to report using prescription drugs compared to men (71%).

  • Among Americans aged 65+, an even higher proportion (87%) state that they take prescription drugs regularly, surpassing the figure for those between the ages of 50-64 years (67%).

Individuals who currently take prescription drugs regularly, on average, consume four different prescription medications on a daily basis.

Reference: Prescription Drug Use Among Midlife and Older Americans

Taking so many prescription drugs is not a good thing.

Instead of relying on mind-altering substances like they did in their earlier years, aging, injured, and ill baby boomers now turn to medications such as Xanax, Zoloft, Oxycodone, and Vicodin for relief.

It is disheartening to see that my generation has become dependent on opioids, leading to addiction issues.

Moreover, some individuals even mix prescription drugs with alcohol, unaware of the dangerous consequences that could arise from this harmful combination.

For instance, the combination of alcohol and prescribed medications can result in unpleasant side effects.  And in some cases, it may even lead to severe complications.

Additionally, common side effects of prescription drugs include dizziness, dry mouth, slurred speech, and sexual dysfunction.

Considering these risks, it may be time for my generation to explore natural remedies and alternative methods to manage anxiety and other minor ailments.

Let’s find healthier and safer solutions that prioritize well-being and longevity.

Reference: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines 

Why do I care about the overuse of prescription drugs?

My generation, the baby boomers, known for questioning authority and rebelling against the establishment, have succumbed to the system. It’s truly unfortunate because we’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to opioid drugs, thanks to the influence of Big Pharma.

Rebel Retirement’s vision is to empower people to take control of their own health – not rely heavily on doctors and pharmaceutical companies for every manageable health need. We firmly believe that individuals should take charge of their own health.  And not rush to a doctor for every small ailment.

However, the reality is that statistics show a large majority of boomers continue to do just that. They seek medical intervention for every sniffle, ache, or pain. Doctors hand out prescriptions. And drug companies are more than happy to oblige. 

Consider this eye-opening fact: In the United States alone, prescription drug spending reached an astonishing 374 billion dollars in 2016. That’s an enormous sum of money! 

What’s the solution?

I am not giving medical advice, nor do I suggest you avoid seeing a doctor. It’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of their personal health needs. 

However, seeking alternative, natural, dietary, or homeopathic solutions for managing health is a good option. Regular exercise and diet alone can help reduce blood pressure.

Practicing deep breathing can alleviate anxiety and improve oxygen levels.

Additionally, cannabis and CBD appear to be other alternatives for managing pain.

I’m not advocating people take illegal drugs.

But I am suggesting that we empower ourselves to consider other options besides Big Pharma.


Although Baby Boomers were known for their rebellious nature, many have embraced the medical system. They heavily rely on prescription drugs. Consequently, a significant number of them have developed an addiction to opioids.

Moreover, there exists a considerable population of individuals above the age of 50 who utilize marijuana for both recreational purposes and pain relief.

Retirees who seek to achieve optimal health often explore alternative methods of pain management, such as medicinal marijuana or holistic medicine. These approaches consider the individual’s holistic well-being, including their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017. It has been updated for accuracy.
Last update: 09/01/23
Disclaimer: In no way is this meant to be medical advice.

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