Our second youth: Seniors taking more drugs and having more sex in retirement

Today’s generation of retirees are redefining what it means to be retired and frankly, we’re shocked at what they’re up to.

Not content with what you’d expect a retiree to be doing, there’s a dark side to today’s baby boomers who are from all accounts experiencing their ‘second youth’ and unleashing their wild side.

According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey released last year, people in their 50s experienced the largest rise in illicit drug use of any age group.

Cannabis use increased from 8.8 per cent to 11.1 per cent among people aged 50–59. According to The New Daily, the research reflects trends overseas, with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimating that the number of over-65s in drug rehabilitation will double between 2001 and 2020.

Just as troubling, recent research from the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of sexually transmitted diseases among older Americans is surging, with the incidence of chlamydia infections and syphilis among the over-65s now on a par with those in their 20s. Experts blame a combination of longer life expectancies, the widespread availability of Viagra and communal living in care homes.

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Dr Stephen Carbone from Beyond Blue told The New Daily there is a definite trend towards older people misusing alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs compared with 10 years ago.

For some, substance abuse is a response to financial stress, health problems or loss of loved ones in old age – but for others, it is a re-adoption or continuation of behaviours learned early in life.

“If you have the attitude, or tolerance, towards these things, or you don’t think these things are unacceptable, then you take that with you into old age,” he said.

For the majority of baby boomers though, retirement is not about showing your ‘wild side’.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle says that many baby boomers are embracing the freedom of retirement in a positive fashion, seizing the opportunity to pursue further education, adventure travel and exercise.

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“They’re doing what they’ve done throughout their lives, which is redefine another life stage,” he said.

“They’re younger than their age would suggest, they have money to spend and they’re the generation that grew up with the notion of growing old disgracefully. They’re much more active than previous generations”.


We were shocked to learn that so many baby boomers are still living the wild life! Tell us, are you still doing these wild things from your youth?