Younger Individuals Are More Likely to Use CBD to Treat Chronic Pain

Those aged 18 to 34 years self-treat with cannabidiol or cannabis at 2 times the rate of people aged 45 years or older.

Individuals aged 18 to 34 years who experience chronic pain are more likely to use cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabis for pain, results of a new survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Samueli Foundation show.

“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,” Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation, said in a statement.

“We know cannabis and CBD can be effective in treating pain that stems from various conditions, such as cancer,” he said. “But there’s insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of CBD and cannabis in treating common chronic pain conditions.”

The survey shows that individuals aged 18 to 34 years are more likely to experience chronic pain, at 65%, than older individuals aged 35 and older, at 52%, with 73% of younger individuals saying they experience pain every day.

Among younger individuals who experience chronic pain, 22% say that they use cannabis and/or CBD for pain and are twice as likely to do so compared with those aged 45 years or older.

Young individuals commonly experience back (32%), knee (22%), and neck (20%) pain, according to the survey results.

Approximately 29% said that they talked to their doctors about their pain since the beginning of the pandemic compared with 15% of those aged 45 years and older who spoke to their physicians.

However, nearly 75% do not know which type of health care provider can help manage the pain best.

“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,” Jonas said. “It’s up to providers across the health care system to engage in regular conversations with patients to uncover the best ways to manage their pain on a daily basis.”

Approximately 78% of individuals use non-drug treatments to manage their pain, while approximately 70% use pharmacological treatments. The most common approaches are OTC pain relievers (53%), exercise (43%), heat or ice (34%), healthy eating (26%), and cannabis or CBD (16%).

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 66% of individuals said that they changed their pain management approach. Approximately 80% said that they are interested in healthy eating, 71% are interested in exercise, and 68% are interested in massage therapy.

About 83% of individuals reported that their quality of life would greatly improve if they could manage their pain better.


Adults under 35 who experience chronic pain are more likely to use cannabis or CBD to manage it. EurekAlert. News release. October 26, 2021. Accessed on October 27, 2021.

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