An online survey found that twice as many people in the US are using cannabis (including CBD products) to treat their chronic pain rather than opioid medication since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The US survey of 2,063 adults, conducted on behalf of the Samueli Foundation, showed that around half the participants were currently suffering from chronic pain.
Of these, over-the-counter medication was used by 53% of the participants, while 11% used non-opioid pain relievers.
Additionally, 16% of participants used cannabis products compared to just 8% using opioid-based medications.
Many participants also used non-drug treatments to relieve pain such as exercise, heat/ice, healthy eating, and massage therapy.
Young adults are becoming more prone to chronic pain
Another interesting statistic showed that 65% of people aged 18 to 34 were suffering from chronic pain, compared to 52% of people aged 35 and older.
One in every five young adults who suffer from chronic pain said that they use cannabis or CBD as a means to treat it, while only 11% of people aged 45 and older said they use cannabis or CBD products.
Wayne Jonas, MD, the executive director of Integrative Health Programs at the Samueli Foundation said:
“It is surprising, but we do know from other research that younger people are less healthy overall than older adults were at their age, so the higher prevalence of pain may be related to that.
“It seems younger generations are facing health issues that were not experienced by older generations, causing them to be sicker and in more pain at a younger age.
“Things like a poor diet, a lack of exercise, the growing pace of change and stress and very little self-care can lead to issues with a person’s health – physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
He also added, “I think it’s clear that young people are looking for ways to manage their pain on their own – through self-care.
“And CBD and cannabis products are increasingly available and legal. People are feeling like they need to find their own ways to manage their pain because the care provided them may be lacking.”
Around 1 in 4 participants said stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep caused their chronic pain to worsen in the midst of the pandemic, and a massive 83% said their quality of life would greatly improve if they were better able to manage it.
In spite of that, the survey found that most adults suffering from chronic pain don’t believe they get sufficient information on how to control their pain.
80% of people wanted their chronic pain to be taken more seriously while 68% want more information on how to best manage it.
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, especially for non-drug approaches.”
More people are trying non-drug treatments
On a much better note, two-thirds of participants (or 66%) say they have changed how they manage their pain since the start of the pandemic.
That includes more people turning to over-the-counter medication or cannabis and CBD products.
But the survey also found that people are more open to trying non-drug treatments such as:
- Healthy eating
- Massage Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Mindfulness or meditation
Plus many more activities.
Meanwhile in the UK, it’s been revealed that thousands of people will be given cannabis as a painkiller in a major new trial that could pave the way for it being prescribed on the NHS.