HealthDay News — Adults who take prescription opioids for severe chronic pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues if they also use cannabis, according to a study published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Andrew H. Rogers, from the University of Houston, and colleagues examined the use of opioids alone vs opioid and cannabis co-use among 450 surveyed adults with moderate to severe pain for at least 3 months. Differences in mental health, pain, and substance use outcomes were evaluated.

The researchers found that significantly more women reported opioid-only use than men. Compared with co-use, respondents reporting opioid-only use were significantly older. Opioid and cannabis co-use was associated with elevated anxiety and depression symptoms compared with opioid use alone. Co-use was also associated with tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, and sedative use problems but was not associated with pain experience.

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“These findings highlight a vulnerable population of polysubstance users with chronic pain, and [indicate] the need for more comprehensive assessment and treatment of chronic pain,” the authors write.

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