Baby Boomer Drug Abuse Resonates With Listeners

A recent report showing that a growing number of baby boomers struggle with addiction prompted listeners to respond with their own stories of how substance abuse has affected their lives. Also, hear why one listener says some gay men should blame themselves for why straight women see them as the perfect tag-along accessory. Guest host Jennifer Ludden and digital media producer Lee Hill comb through listener feedback.

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JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening here in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here. Hey, Lee, happy Friday.

LEE HILL: Hey Jennifer, happy Friday to you as well. This week we talked about a disturbing report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The study found drug use among adults between ages 50 and 59, also known as Baby Boomers, is nearly double that of younger generations. But Jennifer, that's not all.

Those findings were followed by another report by Duke University, which says a significant number of middle-aged adults are also binge drinkers. Now, at the close of that conversation, we asked our listeners to tell us more about how these findings might be playing out in their own lives, and folks reached out to us with very revealing and emotional stories, most of them callers to our comment line. Here's Kinai(ph).

KINAI: I am 38 years old. My dad is 58 years old, and he has been a functioning alcoholic/drug addict my entire life, and listening to your segment made my eyes open really wide. It's very difficult for the children, but you know, as you grow older you start to accept people for how they are and you find a way to accept them on terms that you can deal with.

LUDDEN: Well, thanks, Kinai. Lee, this past weekend marked the start of Ramadan. It's observed by Muslims around the world. Now, this religious holiday calls for 30 days of fasting. It means no food or drink during daytime hours. But in this week's parenting segment, we spoke with a roundtable of Muslim parents about whether children should join adults in fasting, and here's a clip from our conversation with TELL ME MORE's parenting contributor, Asra Nomani.

Ms. ASRA NOMANI: If I was any parent, and I woke up child up at 5:00 in the morning and said that you're not going to eat or drink water for 15 hours, day after day, you'd probably call child support services on me, and I don't think that religion should trump common sense.

HILL: And Jennifer, that discussion and those words in particular touched off a serious debate online about whether religious observances by children - I'm looking here at a post here from blogger Salat(ph), who writes to us from Pakistan. It reads: I began fasting when I was nine years old. My daughter, on the other hand, insisted she wanted to fast, and when she was seven, I allowed her to. My son is nine years old and chooses when he wants to fast. I let him do that, and he's happy with his decision. To think that fasting is a hardship or cruel for children is not to know how special it is for them.

LUDDEN: Thank you, Salat. Lee, the program also received a lot of feedback to last week's conversation with writer Thomas Rogers. He spoke with Michel Martin about how some gay men are annoyed by straight women who want them to be their accessory or tag-along friend, or stereotypical things like getting fashion advice or relationship tips.

We caught up with blogger Melissa, who says actually some gay men are to blame.

MELISSA: Gay men often perpetuate some of these notions. I am an unstylish, aesthetically clueless lesbian - there's another stereotype for you. When mentioning that I was trying to decide on a color for my new home's kitchen, one friend simply said: Oh, honey, we'll come over. You need the boys' help on this. I'm a designer with two art degrees, so I sort of know color, but apparently their gayness trumped that.

LUDDEN: Okay, well, thanks, Melissa. Maybe there's a part two to that conversation, Lee.

HILL: Well, you know, with TELL ME MORE you never know, so…

LUDDEN: That is true, and remember, with TELL ME MORE the conversation never ends. So you can tell us more. Call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log on to our new Web site, where you can read more from fellow listeners and find out our actual mailing address. Just log on to npr.org. Click on programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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