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Lead author Kendall C. Browne, PhD concluded that the results indicate a need for increased screening and resources for veterans at greater risk for developing CUD.
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Veterans in vulnerable subgroups are at greater risk of developing cannabis use disorder (CUD) or consuming cannabis for adult (recreational or non-medicinal) use, according to a new study by researchers at the Pennsylvania Center of Excellence in Substance Addiction Treatment and Education at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center.
The survey, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, aimed to examine cannabis use among veterans by estimating “the prevalence of cannabis use in the past 12 months and in life and cannabis use disorder” among American veterinarians; To study how demographic, psychiatric and substance use disorders correlate with CUD or “non-medical” cannabis use; and to identify differences in the prevalence of CUD and adult cannabis among veterans residing in states with and without legalized medical cannabis laws.
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The researchers examined information from a total of 3,119 respondents who identified themselves as American military veterans, obtained from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III) from 2012-2013. The authors used logistic regression analysis to test the association between CUD / adult cannabis use with clinical and demographic correlations to examine whether prevalence varied based on the cannabis legalization status of veterans in the home states.
The results show that the prevalence of CUD and cannabis use among adults over the past twelve months were 1.8 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, while the lifetime prevalence was 5.7 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively. The prevalence of CUD over the past 12 months and lifetime in adult cannabis users was calculated to be 24.4 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively.
The researchers also found correlations between CUD and / or non-medical cannabis use and certain sociodemographic groups, including those who have lower incomes, are male, young, single (unmarried), and live in a state with established medical cannabis laws.
“Non-medical cannabis use and use disorders were associated with most of the psychiatric and substance use disorders studied,” the authors note.
Lead author Kendall C. Browne, Ph.D. concluded that the results indicate a need for increased screening and resources for veterans at higher risk for developing CUD.
“Among veterans, non-medical cannabis use and use disorder were more likely among vulnerable subgroups, including those with lower income or psychiatric disorders and respondents living in states with medical marijuana laws,” concluded Browne. “The study results underscore the need for clinical attention (e.g. screening, evaluation) and ongoing surveillance among veterans in the context of the increasing legalization of cannabis.”
Browne is also currently leading a broader clinical research project analyzing electronic medical records from the Veterans Health Administration to determine the impact of cannabis laws for medical purposes and adult use on opioids (including “Prescriptions, Fatal and Non-fatal Overdoses, Opioid Use Disorders” ) and psychiatric drug prescriptions.
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