Painful Truth: Chronic Pain Linked to Increased Tobacco And Cannabis Co-Use, Finds Duke University

What Happened

A new study conducted by the Duke University School of Medicine reveals notable correlations between chronic pain and the use of tobacco and cannabis, often concurrently.

Published in Addictive Behaviors, the study highlighted that adults experiencing a painful week are more likely to combine these substances as a coping mechanism.

Why It Matters

The research, which examined the behaviors of 32,014 adults, highlights that individuals experiencing pain were almost triple as likely to report using both tobacco and cannabis.

The findings suggest a link between chronic pain and substance use, particularly concerning tobacco’s exclusive use over cannabis. However, combined use poses a greater risk, potentially worsening pain and increasing dependency risks.

Legalization And Self-Medication Trends

As cannabis gains legal recognition and popularity, individuals suffering from chronic pain may turn to it for self-medication. Lead author of the study, Dana Rubenstein said, “We definitely need to dig deeper into the interplay of pain and substance use. If you’re studying one, you really ought to be considering the other too.”

Authors suspect that co-use could make pain even worse, leading to an increase in use. “While the short-term relief from pain might motivate individuals to use or co-use these substances, we must also consider the long-term effects,” Rubenstein noted.

Study Constraints And Policy Influence

The study, based on data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), did not track changes over time, leaving the causality between pain and substance use undetermined. Nevertheless, it holds potential implications for interventions and may be used to shape policies related to tobacco and cannabis products and legalization.

Read more at Duke University School of Medicine.

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