Should Doctors Screen Older Americans for Pot Use?

Nearly 1 in 10 adults aged 50 or older use cannabis, recent research has found. Most of them aren’t telling their doctors. Now, experts are recommending that physicians begin screening their older patients for cannabis use.

University of Texas researchers analyzed National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) responses from 17,685 people aged 50 and older. Among these who had used marijuana in the past year, 19% had a medical purpose and 81% used it recreationally. Those with a medical reason were four times more likely to inform their medical providers. But overall, the majority kept it to themselves.

"The findings suggest that some medical users may be self-treating without healthcare professional consultation,” said Namkee G. Choi with the University of Texas at Austin, US (Yahoo News).

"All older people who take cannabis should consult healthcare professionals about their use. As part of routine care, healthcare professionals should screen for cannabis and other substance use, and for mental health problems.

"They should also recommend services or treatment when indicated. Given the increase in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) potency, healthcare professionals should educate older cannabis users, especially high-frequency users, on potential safety issues and adverse effects."


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