Background:

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.

Objectives:

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

Methods:

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).

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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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