Millennials choose healthy habits over popping painkillers, finds study
A US survey found that millennials – people aged between 18 to 36 years – make lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight to manage pain.Updated: Sep 01, 2017 09:31 IST
Millennials – people aged between 18 to 36 years – are increasingly choosing healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising and eating right to manage chronic pain, instead of turning to addictive painkilling drugs, a US study has found.
Often spending their days hunched over phones, tablets or computers and their free time at spin class or playing sports, millennials are the next generation poised to experience chronic pain. Even at their young age, acute and chronic pain are already interfering with their quality of life.
A survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) found that millennials make lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight to manage pain.
The survey found that millennials are half as likely as baby boomers to have turned to opioids to manage pain, and one in five millennials regret that they used the highly addictive painkillers. It found many millennials were more likely to obtain opioids inappropriately.
One in 10 millennials obtained opioids through another household member’s prescription, compared to 3% of Generation X (ages 37-52), and 1% of baby boomers (those born in the 60s or before). They were also more likely to think that ‘it’s OK’ to take an opioid without a prescription, and less likely to dispose of leftover opioids safely.
In fact, one in five millennials did not know the best way to safely dispose of opioids, and only 37% were aware that a collection centre at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drug store was the best method of disposal.
“It’s encouraging that millennials see the value of opting for safer and often more effective methods of managing pain,” said ASA President Jeffrey Plagenhoef, M.D.
“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,” Plagenhoef said.
Learning how to manage pain safely and effectively is vital: 75% of millennials say they have had acute pain (which comes on suddenly and lasts less than three months) and nearly 60% have experienced chronic pain (which lasts longer than three months).
The source of that pain is reflective of millennials’ lifestyle, including technology use (leading to eye strain, neck aches, hand or finger pain, wrist or arm pain), migraines and sports injuries.
According to the survey, millennials and members of Generation X are most likely to report pain interfered with their work responsibilities, parenting abilities and participation in family activities.
Engaging in lifestyle changes before chronic pain can gain a further foothold is preferable. When possible, prevention is best, researchers said.
“Chronic pain does not have to be an automatic response to ageing,” said Plagenhoef.
“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,” he said.
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