Chronic Pain and Marijuana Use among a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults


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This study sought to examine the relations between chronic pain and marijuana use in a large nationally representative survey of adults (n = 5,672; 53% female; Mage= 45.05, SD = 17.9) conducted in the United States. After controlling for sociodemographic variables, lifetime history of depression, and alcohol abuse/dependence, there was a significant association between lifetime chronic pain and lifetime and current marijuana use. Moreover, current chronic pain was significantly associated with lifetime marijuana use. There was no significant association between current chronic pain and current marijuana use, possibly owing to limited statistical power. Results suggest that there are generally consistent statistically significant relations between chronic pain and marijuana use. Future work is needed to explicate the developmental patterning between chronic pain and marijuana use. This paper presents the potential linkage between chronic pain and marijuana use. Results from this study suggest that it may be beneficial for clinicians to assess for marijuana use among patients suffering from chronic pain. Such patients may be using marijuana as a maladaptive coping strategy. (Am J Addict 2011;20:538–542)