New research that was published in Spine reveals that individuals who deal with chronic low back pain, which is also referred to as cLBP, tend to be more likely to turn to the use of illicit drugs that include methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Additional research conducted by Dr. Anna Shmagel also reveals that patients with chronic low back pain who have a history of using illegal drugs will be more likely to get a prescription for back pain relieving medications, such as opioid analgesics.


The Study on Chronic Low Back Pain and Drug Use

Researchers were able to analyse the survey responses of over 5,000 adults in the United States. Their ages ranged from 20 to 69, and roughly 13 per cent of the people who responded qualified for the definition of having chronic lower back pain, which must be present for at least three months or more. These are people who are more likely to use products like the Spinal Back Rack to relieve their back pain, though they are also more likely to turn to prescription medications as well. Beyond asking respondents about their back pain, the study also went into questions regarding illicit drug use, focusing on methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.

The Results: A Link Between Illicit Drug Use and Chronic Back Pain

The results were interesting because they actually suggest that back pain is linked with a higher rate of illegal drug use. Roughly 49 per cent of the adults who have chronic low back pain stated that they had used an illegal drug in the past. This is compared to 43 per cent of people who claimed to have used the same drugs but who don’t suffer with chronic low back pain. Even the rate of drug use that occurred within the last 30 days was higher amongst the adults with cLBP, coming in at 14 per cent, versus those without cLBP, which was 9 per cent.

 A Link Between Back Pain and Prescription Opioid Use

This research also suggests that there is a link between the use of prescription opioids in patients with chronic low back pain and the use of unlawful drugs. Individuals who stated that they had used illegal drugs in the past were even more likely to hold an active prescription for pain relieving opioid analgesics.

In fact, 22.5 per cent of respondents with a past that included illegal drug use also had active opioid prescriptions, while only 15 per cent of people who didn’t use drugs in the past had the same types of prescriptions. And those who were currently using illegal drugs were also likely to have opioid drug prescriptions as well.

Understanding this research is very important because it can help doctors realise that they need to be careful about who they prescribe opioids to for chronic low back pain. The results of this survey raise concerns regarding accidental overdose, misuse, and addiction, particularly amongst individuals who suffer with back pain, so careful assessments are necessary before prescriptions are written.

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