Young Adults Take More of Cannabis As Pain Killer

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Young adults are more likely to report chronic pain compared to older adults, with a large majority of them (73 per cent) saying they are in pain every day, revealed a new ‘survey by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Samueli Foundation. However, the dangerous part is that more than one in five young adults who experience chronic pain use cannabis and/or CBD oil for pain.

The study showed that the use of cannabis or CBD oil indicates that the young adults seek more ways to manage their pain through self-care. Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation executive director Wayne Jonas said: “We know cannabis and CBD can be effective in treating pain that stems from various conditions, such as cancer. But there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of CBD and cannabis in treating common chronic pain conditions. Instead, young people should be working with their physicians to first try non-drug treatments that are recommended by the medical community, such as massage therapy, yoga, physical therapy, and exercise.”


The study is based on an online survey held in September of more than 2,000 US adults. The study showed that young adults with pain in the back (32 per cent), neck and knees (20 per cent each) are looking for help from health care providers to manage their pain. Nearly 3 in 10 young adults with chronic pain (29%) say they are talking to their doctors more often about their pain since the pandemic began, compared to just 15% of those age 45 and older. However, three-quarters of young adults (75%) also say they don’t know what kind of health care provider can best help them manage their pain.

Jonas stated that the study showed that young people are trying to deal with their chronic pain on their own, but they also want and need their providers’ help in determining the most effective treatments for their pain.

The study found that 78 percent of adults with chronic pain use non-drug treatments. Seventy per cent use pharmacological treatments, 53 per cent go for over-the-counter pain relievers, followed by exercise (43%), heat/ice (34%), healthy eating (26%), cannabis/CBD drug (16%), physical therapy (15%), massage therapy (15%), and yoga (14%).


Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, two-thirds of those with chronic pain (60%) say they have changed their pain management. Some people are now using over-the-counter medications (37%), exercising (35%), and healthy eating (25%) to manage their pain more often than they did before the pandemic. Large majorities of Americans experiencing chronic pain are interested in using non-drug treatments. Eighty per cent are interested in trying healthy eating and 71 per cent prefer exercise. More than 3 in 5 would be interested in trying massage therapy (68%), physical therapy (62%), or mindfulness-based stress reduction or meditation (61%).


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