Individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) experience high rates of prescription opioid use, yet there is limited data on frequency of opioid use and specific medications being taken.


To examine the frequency of self-reported prescription opioid use among participants with SCI and the relationship with demographic, injury, and socioeconomic characteristics.


A cohort study of 918 adults with SCI of at least 1-year duration completed a self-report assessment (SRA) that indicated frequency of specific prescription opioid use based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).


Forty-seven percent of the participants used at least one prescription opioid over the last year; the most frequently used was hydrocodone (22.1%). Nearly 30% used a minimum of one opioid at least weekly. Lower odds of use of at least one opioid over the past year was observed for Veterans (odds ratio [OR] = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.38, 0.96) and those with a bachelor's degree or higher (OR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.44, 0.91). When restricting the analysis to use of at least one substance daily or weekly, lower odds of use was observed for those with a bachelor's degree or higher and those with income ranging from $25,000 to $75,000+. None of the demographic or SCI variables were significantly related to prescription opioid use.


Despite the widely established risks, prescription opioids were used daily or weekly by more than 28% of the participants. Usage was only related to Veteran status and socioeconomic status indicators, which were protective of use. Alternative treatments are needed for those with the heaviest, most regular usage.

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