Use of illegal drugs among aging could hurt productivity

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A study from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released early today shows that the use of illicit drugs is growing at an alarming rate among people in the 50 to 59-year-old segment of the population. The reports says the among the age group those admitting use of "illicit drugs within the past year has nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007."

One of the conclusions of the research is that growing drug use among the middle aged will cause health problems that will further burden the health care system, but that may not be the most acute problem.

Drug use is likely to curb productivity. People who are high are not usually good workers. Alcohol abuse has long been considered a major reason that people take days off. Abuse of prescription drugs is another reason. Pot and cocaine need to be added to that list. Things are getting so bad that a third of the people in the 50 to 59 year-old group may not be working at their full potential. That is a lot of people to have operating ineffectively in the work force.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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