Millennials prefer healthy habits over opioids for pain, survey says

Many millennials report acute and chronic pain are interfering with their quality of life even at their young age.
By Amy Wallace  |  Aug. 30, 2017 at 3:34 PM
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Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A recent survey found that millennials prefer lifestyles changes, such as exercise, over taking opioid-based medications for acute and chronic pain management.

Millennials are the next generation expected to experience chronic pain thanks to spending their days hunched over computers, smartphones, tablets and spending free time playing sports.

Nearly 75 percent of millennials surveyed reported having acute pain, and nearly 60 percent reported having chronic pain.

The survey, which was commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, or ASA, found that millennials prefer to treat pain with lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, quitting smoking and losing weight, rather than taking prescription opioid medication.

"It's encouraging that millennials see the value of opting for safer and often more effective methods of managing pain," Dr. Jeffrey Plagenhoef, ASA president, said in a press release. "But clearly they are in need of further education when it comes to opioids and chronic pain because using the drugs initially to treat pain can turn into a lifelong struggle with addiction."

The survey found that millennials were half as likely as baby boomers to turn to opioids to manage pain, and one in five millennials regret ever using opioids.

The survey showed one in 10 millennials obtained opioids inappropriately through other household member's prescriptions, compared to 3 percent of Generation Xers, 1 percent of baby boomers and none the silent generation.

Approximately 30 percent of millennials surveyed said it was okay to take an opioid without a prescription compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers, 12 percent of baby boomers and 3 percent of the silent generation. The survey showed one in five millennials reported being unaware of the best way to safely dispose of opioids.

"Chronic pain does not have to be an automatic response to aging," Plagenhoef said. "Healthy lifestyle changes such as exercising, proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight can keep millennials from dealing with some of the chronic pain their parents and grandparents are experiencing."

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