Chronic pain is certainly a common issue. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that an estimated 50 million Americans, or just over 20 percent, have some form of chronic pain. This data came from the CDC’s 2016 National Health Interview Survey.
The high numbers of people in pain has precipitated the opioid epidemic, with increasingly more Americans using — and getting addicted to — prescription medications to treat their chronic pain.
In 2015, the CDC reported that drug overdoses resulted in 52,404 deaths. Out of that number, 33,091 involved opioid use.
These figures have led the medical community to seek out alternatives to these drugs.
And while Boehnke’s study doesn’t investigate what effects medical marijuana has, he says it does underscore the prominent role it’s playing right now in treating issues like chronic pain.
“This study is important now because, up until this point, there wasn’t much concrete, nationwide data about why people are using cannabis. There’s still a lot to be learned, but this is a good starting point to build from,” he said. “It clarifies something that we had been thinking for quite some time, that chronic pain was the most common reason that people were using cannabis.”
“This makes sense, because chronic pain is incredibly common, affecting tens of millions of Americans,” he added.