Millennials and Their Parents Hit Hardest By Opioid Crisis

Recently, Columbia University discovered that Millennials and Baby Boomers appear to be the age groups hardest hit by the opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 2 million Americans were abusing opioids in 2015, including heroin and prescription opioids, such as painkillers like Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone) and codeine.

High Opioid Abuse Rates Among Millennials and Baby Boomers

According to a research report in the American Journal of Public Health, Millennials (or Gen Y, those born between 1981 and 1997) have higher death rates from heroin than other age groups. At the same time, Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have higher rates of death from both prescription opioids and heroin than other age groups.

Death Rates

The study found that Baby Boomers were up to 27 percent more likely to die of a prescription opioid overdose, compared to people born in the late 1970s, HealthDay reports. They were also up to one-third more likely to die of a heroin overdose. Millennials were 23 percent more likely to die of a heroin overdose compared with those born in the late 1970s.

Why These Age Groups?

The Baby Boomer generation is known to have a relatively high rate of drug abuse versus other generations. They are also the age group that was middle-aged when prescriptions for opioids were taking off in the 1990s, making them a “primary target” for the medications. Speculation as to why Millenials are more likely to use than their Gen X predecessors points towards a less-stable economic position. They are the age group which is less-likely to be able to find employment which can lead to developing mental illness and feel the need to escape with drugs.

Could This Continue with Generation Z?

Gen Z is the current youth born between 1997 and 2010. The majority of this age range are pre-teens and teenagers now — prime targets for experimental drug use. With opioid deaths continuing strong and economic uncertainty, there is worry that the crisis will only spread and “recruit” more drug abusers.

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