A record number of UK pensioners are being treated in hospital after overdosing on illegal drugs, as the 'hippy generation' of the 1960s reaches old age.

According to recent figures, 900 men and women over 65 were admitted to A&E units having poisoned themselves with drugs including cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines, three times as many as were treated a decade ago.

More than half of those admitted were 75 or older, meaning they would have been in their twenties in the 1960s, when recreational drug use became popular.

The National Drug Prevention Alliance's David Raynes told the Sunday Times: "We are getting to the period where people who grew up in the 1960s are of that age.

"People who have used drugs their whole lives will start to hit the NHS," he said.

A study by researchers at Kings College London found that nearly one in ten Londoners in their sixties was taking illicit drugs.

Based on a survey of 4,000 households, the study found that illegal drug use had dramatically increased among old people 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."

He has previously called for research to be carried out on the effects of drug use on older people, to establish whether links can be drawn between narcotic use and the onset of neurodegenerative disorders.

The charity DrugScope said that treatment centres should be better equipped to treat old people.