Record numbers of pensioners over the age of 65 are requiring hospital treatment following recreational drug use, according to the latest NHS figures.
Nearly 900 men and women visited A&E last year after overdosing on illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines, up from 283 just a decade ago.
More than half of those admissions were for people over the age of 75 – of the generation who would have been in their 20s during the 1960s when experimental drug-taking was at its peak.
Experts have blamed the “free love” generation for the rates tripling in 10 years, and warned that the problem is only going to become more of a burden on public services.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, the National Drug Prevention Alliance’s David Raynes said: “We are getting to the period where people who grew up in the sixties are of that age.
“People who have used drugs their whole lives will start to hit the NHS,” he said.
The charity DrugScope said treatment centres needed to be better prepared for an “aging client group”, with more resources required to deal with older patients.
In another study from King’s College London, illicit drug use among people over 50 was found to have increased dramatically since 1993.
Research co-author Robert Stewart told the newspaper: “The assumption is that these people would have grown up during ages when it was considered more acceptable.
“The hospitalisation of pensioners through drug use is going to get more common.”
The news comes as last week a drug courier who supplied a grandmother with heroin was jailed for three years.
Exeter Crown Court heard how pensioners Michael and Teresa Wood were part of a supply network distributing the drug across Devon and Cornwall. Ms Wood, 63, was found carrying heroin in her shopping bag alongside Cornish pasties she had bought for supper.