OCT 09, 2020 9:35 AM PDT

Older Adults Use Cannabis for Common Health Problems

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have found that older adults tend to use cannabis for medical purposes for a variety of common health conditions. These include pain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression. 

For the study, the researchers conducted an anonymous survey to gather data on 568 adults aged 65 years and older to understand their cannabis use. While 15% of the respondents reported using cannabis within the last three years, 61% of participants reported using cannabis for the first time as older adults. Meanwhile, just over half reported using the substance daily or weekly, with 46% reporting using cannabidiol-only (CBD) products. 

Al in all, the researchers found that the majority of participants- 78%- used cannabis only for medical purposes. Arthritis and pain were the most common reason to use cannabis, followed by sleep disturbance (29%), anxiety (24%), and depression (17%). Over three-quarters of participants found cannabis either ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ helpful in managing one of these conditions, with very few reporting adverse effects. 

While 94% indicated that their family members knew about their use of cannabis, just around half reported that the same was true of their friends. Meanwhile, just 41% reported that their healthcare provider was aware of their usage of the substance. 

“The findings demonstrate the need for the clinical workforce to become aware of cannabis use by seniors and to gain awareness of both the benefits and risks of cannabis use in their patient population,” says Alison Moore, MD, senior author of the study and chief of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. 

“Given the prevalence of use, it may be important to incorporate evidence-backed information about cannabis use into medical school and use screening questions about cannabis as a regular part of clinic visits.”

 

Sources: UC San Diego HealthJournal of the American Geriatrics Society

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
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