Which Older Adults Use Cannabis for Chronic Pain Relief?

PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We found that there was a difference in pain levels for users vs. non-users, but when we broke down the cannabis users groups, there was no significant difference in reported pain levels or quality of life between the three types of groups.  Instead, factors such as personal attitudes and physician’s attitudes influenced an individual’s choice between cannabis, opioids, or both. 

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings shed light on some of the clinical and contextual conditions that drive older individuals to choose cannabis or opioids to treat pain.  Pain levels were not a driving force behind the choice between pain relief type (i.e. opioids, cannabis, or both) in our study which was a surprise.  ? Given the context of the opioid epidemic, it is important to consider the role that cannabis is playing relative to opioids use.

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: I believe that there are a couple of directions this research could go in the future.  First, additional studies could look further into other enabling contextual conditions such as the opioid prescription rate per county, availability of cannabis dispensaries, and number of physicians per county who are willing to discuss and/or certify medical cannabis are important factors to consider.

Second, the results of this study also are consistent with a growing body of research suggesting that medical cannabis may play an important role in the use of opioids. Some studies suggest that cannabis use leads to the use of other drugs including opioids. In contrast, other studies have shown that individuals take cannabis as a way to reduce or replace opioids. There needs to be additional research on the intersection between cannabis and opioids use. 

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about our study.  The authors have no disclosures.

Citation:

Use of cannabis and opioids for chronic pain by older adults: Distinguishing clinical and contextual influences

Julie Bobitt, Hyojung Kang, James Alton Croker III, Laura Quintero Silva, Brian Kaskie
First published :29 May 2020

https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13080