Record numbers of pensioners end up in hospital after taking illegal drugs

ALMOST 1,000 pensioners have been hospitalised after taking illegal drugs as the swinging 60s generation hit old age, The People can reveal.

The number of OAPs poisoning themselves with cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines has TRIPLED in the last decade.

And almost half of those rushed to A&E last year were OVER 75.

Experts blame the spike on the ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ generation – who were in their teens and twenties when The Rolling Stones, Jimmi Hendrix and The Who were strutting their stuff – reaching old age.

Jimi Hendrix memorial

David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance said: “We are getting to the period where people who grew up in the sixties are of that age.”

In the past year 888 pensioners were hospitalised after being poisoned by illicit drugs – compared to just 283 patients aged 65 and over in 2002.

But the ageing rockers who glamourised drugs in the sixties are now ditching their habits for healthier lifestyles.

Rockers Status Quo spent almost £2million on cocaine in the 1980s, but now Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt don’t touch anything stronger than a baby aspirin.

Parfitt, 65, said: “I don’t do drugs now and have a drink only socially…most nights I’m in bed by 10.”

His bandmate Rossi, said earlier this year: “I really wish I hadn’t become a coke addict or a drinker…I don’t like either!”

Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney, now 71, gave up cannabis last year after using it for almost 50 years.

The singer, who was introduced to marijuana in the mid-60s by Bob Dylan, said at the time: “I did a lot and it was enough.”

And 69-year-old Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards quit cocaine in 2006 after falling out of a palm tree in Fiji, saying “all experiments come to an end”.

Charity DrugScope called for drug centres to be ready for the ‘free love’ generation.

Harry Shapiro, Director of Communications and Information, (CORR NO SPACE) said: “When people age they may find that they start to encounter problems with alcohol or drug use as their physical or mental health changes.

“This could compound and exacerbate the health problems they are already experiencing after years of use.

“Drug and alcohol treatment services need to be adequately resourced to deal with this ageing client group and the additional health problems they may be facing.”

A decade ago 132 people aged 65 to 74-years-old were admitted to English hospitals after being poisoned by “illicit drugs” but last year it reached 415.

And in the past 12 months the number of patients aged 75 hospitalised was 473, more than TRIPLE the 151 admitted in 2002.

The figures were released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in a report called ‘Statistics on Drugs Misuse – England 2013’.

Rock guitarist

The report included the number of people admitted to hospital for using cannabis, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, and other recreational drugs.

It is backed-up by an academic study last year which found cannabis, amphetamine and cocaine-use by the over 50s had increased dramatically since 1993.

And the researchers – from Kings College London – predicted that recreational drug taking would become more common in older people in the next two decades.

Professor Robert Stewart, who co-authored the paper, told The People: “The assumption is that these people would have grown up during ages when it was considered more acceptable to do drugs and they would have known people who did them.”

As well as an increase in admissions for poisoning the numbers of pensioners hospitalised with drug-related mental health or behavioural problems has increased four-fold since 2002.

Doctors diagnosed just 264 patients aged 65 and over as suffering from these conditions ten years ago – compared to 1,116 similar incidents last year.

NHS England said an understanding of drug-taking among different age groups help them direct treatment and support.

Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Patients with Long Term Conditions, said: “NHS England welcomes the insight and intelligence provided by these reports. They reinforce the priority and focus being given to parity of esteem for mental health in the NHS Mandate.

“The pathway of care for people with drug and alcohol related disorder relies on close working between the NHS and other statutory bodies.

“Health and WellBeing Boards, Public Health England and Clinical Commissioning Groups can align and coordinate appropriate commissioning of services to support communities in addressing the problems this report highlights.

“NHS England is working with Public Health England to support Clinical Commissioning Groups with better information and analysis and has invested in commissioning development so that Clinical Commissioning Groups are equipped to invest the public pound as effectively as possible to ensure the right services are in place.”

*This story, by reporter James Drummond, appeared in the Sunday Times on December 8, 2013, and the People on December 15, 2013.

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About 

Guy Basnett is an investigative journalist and reporter. He has held the posts of Chief Reporter at The Journal, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Features Writer at the News of the World, and Deputy Features Editor at the News of the World. He was awarded Young Reporter of the Year at the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards 2006, shortlisted for Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards 2009, and shortlisted for Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards 2010.

Guy Basnett

Guy Basnett is an investigative journalist and reporter. He has held the posts of Chief Reporter at The Journal, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Features Writer at the News of the World, and Deputy Features Editor at the News of the World. He was awarded Young Reporter of the Year at the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards 2006, shortlisted for Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards 2009, and shortlisted for Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards 2010.