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Older Adults Return To Using Drugs Intermittently

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham learned that people who occasionally use drugs like cocaine, amphetamine and opiates over the years are more common than previously thought.

“When you think of a drug user, you often think of someone strung-out, using every day, and in deep trouble, but national data shows that that’s not the most common thing you see,” said Dr. Stefan Kertesz, an associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingtom Division of Preventive Medicine. “The most common pattern is illicit drug use at lower levels.”

Kertesz calls these drug users “dabblers.” His study followed more than 4,300 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 for twenty years. He learned that some perfectly functional middle aged adults return to using the drugs that they tried when they were younger. Many of these “dabblers” do not consider themselves addicted to the drugs because they only use them sporadically.

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