Study Shows Older Adults are Using Cannabis to Treat Common Health Issues
University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers reported cannabis is being used for medical purposes amongst older adults. The conditions these individuals are treating include several common conditions, such as sleep disturbances, psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety, and pain.
During the study, researchers surveyed 568 patients. 15 percent claim to have used cannabis within the last 3 years, and half of the users reported that they’d been using it regularly and primarily for medical purposes. The patients surveyed visited the Medicine for Seniors Clinic at UC San Diego Health over 10 weeks.
Co-first author of the study and third-year medical student at UC San Diego, Kevin Yang, said, “Surprisingly, we found that nearly three-fifths of cannabis users reported using cannabis for the first time as older adults. These individuals were a unique group compared to those who used cannabis in the past.”
Yang went on to discuss that new users were more likely to use cannabis for medical purposes than for recreation. He also touched upon how this demographic prefers to use cannabis topically in lotions as opposed to smoking or eating edibles. Yang explained that new users are also more likely to let their physician know about their cannabis use, showing that the stigma around cannabis use could be disappearing.
The researchers also highlighted that future surveys would likely be used to continue analyzing older adults utilizing cannabis for their first time.
“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,” explained senior author Alison Moore, MD, 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.”