A bit of good news from the American Society of Anesthesiologists: Millennials are far less likely than their parents to turn to opioid pain killers.
Drawing from an online survey of more than 1,011 adults, the society concluded that millennials are only half as likely as baby boomers to turn to opioids, relying instead on lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight loss and proper diet for their pain management.
Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995, meaning the oldest among them are moving into their late 30s, an age when some of us start to notice aches and pains. By contrast, baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, putting them in their early 50s to early 70s.
The survey is a bright spot for a country in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Ninety Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with 33,000 deaths in 2015. The culprits include prescription pain medications, heroin and illegally produced fentanyl, a substance that is as much as 50 times as powerful as heroin.
The price tag for misused opioid painkillers alone is more than $78 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, including costs associated with healthcare, addiction treatment, lost productivity and the criminal justice system.
While the ASA survey found that millennials are less likely to lean on these powerful painkillers, the news wasn’t completely positive. Millennials were also more likely to use opioids without a doctor’s prescription, with one in 10 having used the prescription of someone else in their household, compared to 1 percent of boomers. Not only that, but nearly 30 percent of millennials think it’s OK to take an opioid without a prescription, compared to 12 percent of boomers.
The anesthesiologists had some suggestions for people who would like to take it easy on the painkillers. These include:
Moderation with your devices. Computers, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles can be awesome, but if you use them mindlessly you can easily strain your neck and back, wrists.
Ease into athletics. Stretching and warmup exercises are your friends, especially if you dive into weekend activities after a work week spent behind a desk.
Don’t just sit there. Get up and move at least once an hour.
Get healthy. Proper diet, appropriate weight loss, low-impact aerobic exercise and regular strength training can all help to make you pain-free.
Use and dispose of opioid painkillers appropriately. Ask questions when your physician prescribes opioids, stoop using then when your pain subsides, and dispose of extra meds at an appropriate collection center.