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Young Adults With Chronic Pain Are More Likely to Use Cannabis to Manage the Condition

December 16, 2021 03:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Young Adults With Chronic Pain Are More Likely to Use Cannabis to Manage the Condition

One would assume that the aches and pains associated with aging would push older adults to report their chronic pain and consider various remedies, including cannabis. However, a new survey found that young adults are more likely to report chronic pain and are more likely to use cannabis or CBD products to manage that pain. 

The Chronic Pain Survey’s Alarming Findings

The survey, conducted online in September by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Samueli Foundation, received responses from more than 2,000 American adults. Based on the responses, those between the ages of 18 and 34 (65% of young adult respondents) were more likely to report experiencing chronic pain in comparison to older adults (52% of respondents aged 35+). Additionally, 73% of the respondents reported being in pain every day, and 22% of the young adults reported using cannabis or CBD oil to manage that pain. Meanwhile, those aged 45+ are half as likely to do so, with only 11% responding in favor of using cannabis to manage chronic pain. 


Wayne Jonas, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation, stated, “The prevalence of persistent pain among young adults is alarming, and their use of cannabis or CBD oil indicates they are seeking more ways to manage their pain through self-care.” The survey also revealed that younger adults are most commonly experiencing chronic pain in the backs, necks, and knees. Additionally, three in 10 of the young adults with chronic pain have increased how often they talk to physicians about their chronic pain since the pandemic has begun.

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Jonas explains, “It’s clear 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.” It was found that 78% of the adults with chronic pain use non-drug-related treatment options, while 70% use pharmacological options like over-the-counter pain medication. Other methods of pain relief being utilized by respondents include exercise (43%), heat/ice (34%), healthy eating (26%), physical therapy (15%), massage therapy (15%), and yoga (14%). 

Lastly, the survey found that 83% of Americans with chronic pain state that their quality of life would improve dramatically if they were able to manage the condition better, while 79% wish that health care providers would take chronic pain more seriously, and 68% wish they had more information available on how to manage their chronic pain. 

Using Cannabis to Alleviate Chronic Pain

As the stigma surrounding cannabis continues to be disproven by science, more and more medical patients are turning to the plant for relief from a variety of conditions. One condition that many patients have found success at treating with cannabis is chronic pain. Because cannabis, and the CBD found in cannabis especially, has analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties, it can soothe the symptoms associated with neuropathic pain, inflammatory pain, osteoarthritis, and more. 

Many patients experiencing chronic pain immediately turn to over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, but all-natural cannabis is often a more effective option. In fact, 40% of chronic pain patients have already swapped out their opioids for medical cannabis. On top of cannabis’ ability to relieve pain, the plant also has calming properties that can ease the stress related to chronic conditions. Additionally, even frequent cannabis use carries very little risk of addiction or major side effects, as opposed to many opioid-based medications that can quickly lead to addiction for consumers.

More often than not, those suffering from chronic pain deal with much more than the pain itself, including muscle aches, burning sensations, sleep problems followed by fatigue, loss of stamina, reduced flexibility, depression, irritability, and anxiety. Jonas said, “This should be a wake-up call to physicians that their patients are looking for more information from them about managing their chronic pain…” For many patients living with chronic pain, cannabis could be a life-changing remedy. 

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