The aging United States population, which includes the large Baby Boomer generation, is leading to an increasing number of middle-aged and older adults who engage in psychoactive substance use. There has been a sharp increase in prevalence of past-month cannabis use among adults aged >/=50; however, little is understood about recent trends in the use of both cannabis and excess alcohol use, such as binge drinking, in this population. The current use of both alcohol and cannabis has important health implications for older adults given higher prevalence of chronic diseases and prescribed medications. This study aimed to 1) estimate national trends among older adults who report both past-month binge drinking and cannabis use, and 2) estimate correlates of reporting both. We examined aggregated data from a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized adults aged >/=50 from the 2015 to 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. During the study period, there was an estimated 2.5% increase (a 64.1% relative increase) in past-month cannabis use (linear trend p<0.001), a non-significant decrease in past-month binge drinking, and a 0.5% estimated increase in both past-month cannabis use and binge drinking (a 26.3% relative increase) (p=0.03). The sharpest increase in both past-month cannabis use and binge drinking was among adults aged >/=65 with the estimated prevalence increasing from 0.2% in 2015 to 1.1% in 2019 (a 450% relative increase, p<0.001). Those engaging in past-month binge drinking and cannabis use were more likely to be younger, male, non-Hispanic Black, use tobacco, and report past-year mental health treatment. Results suggest that the prevalence of both past-month cannabis use and binge drinking among middle-aged and older adults increased between 2015 and 2019, especially among adults aged >/=65, which indicates an increased need to screen for both excess alcohol and cannabis use to minimize potential harm.
Past-month binge drinking and cannabis use among middle-aged and older adults in the United States, 2015-2019
Alcohol, 107, 32-37. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2022.07.006. PMCID: PMC9933134.