JAN 22, 2020 4:31 PM PST

People Struggling with Pain Also Struggle with Cannabis Use Disorder

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

The hype in the media that surrounds cannabis and health benefits supposedly associated with its use may be detrimental to individuals with certain conditions desperate for a solution. While aiming to learn more about what factors increase the risk of cannabis use disorder, scientists from a new study found that the perception that cannabis products can reduce the experience of pain may be increasing the risk of cannabis use disorder for individuals dealing with chronic pain.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) combines cannabis abuse and dependence to define cannabis use disorder: the “behavioral disorder that can occur with chronic cannabis use.” This includes non-medical cannabis use that is frequent, problematic, or both.

Whether it is due to biased marketing campaigns from cannabis product companies are misguided publications in the media, many people perceive cannabis as not only harmless, but even beneficial for alleviating pain, soothing anxiety, and remedying other common conditions. “Non-medical use of cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis has increased,” explained study leader Deborah Hasin, PhD. “This [perception] puts a large group of U.S. adults at risk for frequent non-medical use and cannabis use disorder.”

The common perception of cannabis as harmless and associated with health benefits is all in spite of the fact that there is not clear scientific evidence that cannabis helps with alleviating pain. It is not a direct replacement for opioids in pain management protocols, either.

As part of the study to understand the factors driving cannabis use disorder, researchers analyzed certain data on marijuana use from the 2001-2002 and 2012-2013 “National Epidemiologic Surveys on Alcohol and Related Conditions.” Specifically, they looked at non-medical cannabis use patterns in adults with and without chronic pain issues. About 20% of participants reported experiencing moderate to severe pain.

First, researchers observed a general increase in non-medical marijuana use between the study dates. Furthermore, the 2012-2013 survey revealed significant increases in the likelihood of frequent non-medical cannabis use in people experiencing pain versus people not. Additionally, they reported a similar increased risk of cannabis use disorder in this same group of individuals with chronic pain.

Researchers from the study reflect on their findings by pointing out that the media must improve their reporting of marijuana health benefits. Instead of inflating the potential health benefits associated with cannabis, it might be better served to create fairer messages describing what scientists can agree on based on a robust library of scientific evidence and what still needs to be studied a bit more.

Sources: Columbia University Irving Medical Center, American Journal of Psychiatry, “Cannabis Use Disorder

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 15, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
OCT 15, 2019
CBD Extract for Cannabis Addiction
Some people believe the secret to curing a hangover is to drink more alcohol the morning after a night of binge drinking - “the hair of the dog that
NOV 12, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 12, 2019
Women Turn to Cannabis for Endometriosis Relief
Pharmaceutical drugs aren’t doing the job for women with endometriosis pain, and cannabis seems to be an exceedingly popular alternative. As a chroni
NOV 19, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 19, 2019
Cannabis Can't Simply Replace Opioids for Pain Management
According to the research, cannabis is not effective when it comes to treating individuals struggling with opioid use disorder. While some may have conside
JAN 10, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 10, 2020
Are Edibles the Safest Option for Marijuana Users?
Cannabis edibles are growing in popularity, while cannabis products become more widely accepted across the country and beyond. However, it looks like scien
MAR 20, 2020
Health & Medicine
MAR 20, 2020
THC and Single Joint Linked to Temporary Psychiatric Symptoms
A new analysis of cannabis health risks and benefits reinforces the complexity of this drug, proving that health and risk factors depend on the active comp
APR 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
APR 03, 2020
Nope, Marijuana Does Not Cure COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled panic across the world amid global lockdowns and spiking death tolls, some have started to claim that cannabis is able
Loading Comments...