College of Health and Human Performance

New Research from HEB: Dual-misuse of opioids and marijuana on the rise, may lead to poorer health outcomes

Oct. 17, 2019

The article, “Perceived health, medical and psychiatric conditions in individual and dual-use of marijuana and nonprescription opioids,” by Tessa Frohe, Beseler, Mendoza, Cottler and Leeman, was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 87, issue 10, pp. 859-871 this month.

Marijuana and nonprescription opioids remain the two most commonly-used illicit substances in the United States. Dual-use of both substances may have a greater impact on psychological and physical health outcomes than use of only one substance. Frohe and colleagues (2019) used data from two national surveys of adults in the United States to address questions related to individual and dual-use of nonprescription opioids and marijuana. Their findings suggested that dual-use of nonprescription opioids and marijuana is on the rise. As marijuana becomes more readily available with expanding legalization, dual-use with opioids may continue to increase.

Nonprescription opioid use, alone or in combination with marijuana, predicted poorer perceived health and pain causing difficulties with work at a three year follow-up. This is concerning because these difficulties will create further need for pain relief, more opioid misuse and addiction. Frohe and colleagues also found strong relations between opioid use and both psychiatric conditions and suicide attempts three years later. Thus, clinicians must be aware of opioid use when treating individuals with chronic medical and/or mental health conditions. Although marijuana use seemed less problematic overall, there were consistent associations with depression and suicidal ideation. Substance interventions may be enhanced by addressing alternative pain care; chronic conditions; and psychiatric comorbidity. Clinicians should educate patients about effects of opioid use on its own and in combination with other substances to help avoid substance misuse and addiction.

About UF College of Health & Human Performance

The University of Florida College of Health & Human Performance (HHP) is focused on solving health problems, advancing human performance and enriching the quality of life across multiple disciplines. The college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates, both online and on campus across multiple disciplines. These include applied physiology and kinesiology, health education and behavior, sport management, and tourism, hospitality and event management. HHP is home to three research centers – the Center for Exercise Science, the Center for Behavioral Economic Health Research and the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute. HHP researchers use state-of-the-art facilities to win the battle against addiction, improve the quality of life for those suffering from debilitating neurological, cardiovascular and muscular disease and help span cultural divides through tourism and sport.

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