• Journal Article

Physical pain, common psychiatric and substance use disorders, and the non-medical use of prescription analgesics in the United States

Citation

Novak, S., Herman-Stahl, M., Flannery, B., & Zimmerman, M. (2009). Physical pain, common psychiatric and substance use disorders, and the non-medical use of prescription analgesics in the United States. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 100(1-2), 63-70.

Abstract

This study investigated the link between physical pain and non-medical prescription analgesic use (NMPAU), as well as the degree to which this association may vary by the presence of psychiatric and substance use disorders. Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a nationally representative, in-person probability sample of adults (n=43,093) aged 18 or older in the United States (2001-2002). Face-to-face interviews were used to gather information on past-year levels of physical pain (i.e., low, medium, high), in addition to DSM-IV classifications for mood, anxiety, substance use problems (i.e., abuse and/or dependence), and personality disorders. Within the analytic sample of those with valid data (n=42,734), the past-year rate of NMPAU was 1.8%, of which 20% met the DSM-IV criteria for abuse/dependence. Among past-year NMPAUs, 53% was incidental (e.g., less than monthly), but daily use was substantial (13% of NMPAUs). Accounting for our target confounding factors, pain was positively associated (p<0.05) with an increased probability of non-disordered (i.e., no abuse and/or dependence) and disordered (i.e., abuse and/or dependence) NMPAU in the past year. Within each level of pain, the odds of past-year non-disordered and disordered NMPAU were significantly higher (p<0.05) for those with disordered alcohol use compared with non-disordered users. This pattern was similar for illicit drugs, although marginally significant (p=0.060) and specific to disordered NMPAU. In contrast, psychiatric disorders increased the probability of both types of NMPAU, but these associations did not differ by levels of pain. These findings suggest that pain is an independent risk factor for non-disordered and disordered NMPAU, yet its effects are substantially modified by patterns of substance use