Chronic Low Back Pain Linked to Slightly Higher Rates of Illicit Drug Use

Chronic Low Back Pain Linked to Slightly Higher Rates of Illicit Drug Use

By Staff

If you have chronic low back pain (cLBP), you are more likely to use illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine than those who don’t have back pain, says a study in the medical journal, Spine.

The study also found that those with chronic low back pain and who have a history of illicit drug use are more likely to have a current prescription for opioids, says the lead author of the study, Dr. Anna Shmagel of University of Minnesota, and colleagues.  They noted that it’s not clear which direction the association runs, but the patterns of illicit drug use may have implications for doctors deciding about prescribing opioids for patients with low back pain.

They study analyzed survey responses from over 5,000 adults (US citizens aged 20 to 69) from a nationally representative health study (the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES).

Nearly 13% of respondents met the study definition of cLBP – low back pain that persists for three months or longer.  The confidential survey also asked participants about their use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

The results suggested that back pain was linked to higher rates of illicit drug use. About 49% of adults with cLBP said they had used illicit drugs, compared to 43% of those without cLBP.  Rates of current illicit drug use (within the past 30 days) were also higher in the cLBP group: 14% versus 9%.

All four drugs in the survey were more commonly used by respondents with cLBP.  Rates of lifetime use were about 46.5% versus 42% for marijuana, 22% versus 14% for cocaine, 9% versus 5% for methamphetamine, and 5% versus 2% for heroin.  After adjustment for other factors, participants with cLBP were more than twice as likely to report methamphetamine and heroin use.

The results also suggested a link between illicit drugs and prescription opioids among patients with cLBP. Subjects who had used illicit drugs were more likely to have an active prescription for opioid analgesics – about 22% versus 15%. Current illicit drug users were also more likely to have an opioid prescription, although that difference was not statistically significant.

The nationwide data show that people with cLBP have higher rates of illicit drug use, and those with a past history of illicit drug use are more likely to be current users of opioid analgesics.

The researchers note some important limitations of their study, including a lack of data on whether illicit drug use occurred before or after cLBP. They also suggest that the true scope of the problem may be even greater, since NHANES excludes some groups at high risk of illicit drug use.

Pending further research, doctors may want to consider these associations when evaluating pain relief options for patients with cLBP, Dr. Shmagel and coauthors believe.

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It is extremely horrifying to first hand experience all of this and repeatedly get taken advantage off. I know there is a special place in hell for those people preying on the weak who are desperate for help and often get poorly treated or feel ashamed. The select group willing to speak to you and spill their darkest secrets takes a lot of courage and trust . Shame on you. Anyone who has experienced this as a last resort to be free of pain knows every darkness of hell. I broke free of 160 mg daily of Percocet 30s when I finally found a physician who helped me. 3 years of suffering from a severe swelling of my right kidney . I looked like a reject when I approached every urgent care Shelliing out 200 every few weeks just for their time and hopes of help.. I spent $ 4000 hard earned dollars A month to be able to Sit in a chair for a few hours. I will never look at anyone the same again and judge them by their cover.. it truly takes a strong person to go through this pain. It makes me extremely angry at the doctors who pushed me away and wouldn’t properly diagnose me I literlly convinced myself through the years and it was some made up illness and maybe I convinced myself I needed the medication.’Thankfully.. I saw the dark side of the “rehab” industry and realized I would face the depths of hell and experience the longest most horrific days of my life . I quit cold turkey and it was terrifying. I’m not very religious but I prayed so much . For those of you who have experienced those first few days I still don’t understand how someone’s body or mind could ever go through that again. After I went to multiple psychologists who make a living off others misfortunes or errors it was hard to trust anyone. I was shamed for doing it on my own even after months of being clean. with the help of my mom after day 2 I desperately needed someone who would believe in me..Any doctor or therapist who condemns you for having the strength to fight such an awful experience and have the will to get through it should understand there are some that just got screwed and made last resort attempts to survive. It doesn’t make you a bad person.. I had looked at people everyday for so long envying their health and well being I used to take for granted all the time just for fac they didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars each month to survive. Eventually it got so bad I threw up a majority of everything I ate. I almost lost my kidney because A specialist nearly gave me a death sentence and assured me I wasn’t in pain. My fiancé foreclosed on his home to try covering some of the bills when my urologist scheduled a untimely… Read more »

Tim Mason

Saw posted on Yahoo today and example of bad statistics by Dr. Thomas Frieden MD. Dec 17,2016.
“Year after year since I’ve been at CDC, the drug overdose death toll in our nation has been the highest on record. In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans lost their lives from an overdose. More than 33,000 of these deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid.”

The last line groups prescriptions opioids and opiates in one group to make up the 33K he mentions. Very misleading and obviously not peer reviewed.

Sandy Auriene Sullivan

This: “The researchers note some important limitations of their study, including a lack of data on whether illicit drug use occurred before or after cLBP.”

Yeah, this is a highly flawed study since it does not take into account that those who suffer chronic lower back pain started to self medicate due to it. As noted above [below] “cooking the data until it surrenders”

A waste of a study by their own omissions, and admits as much.


and none are patient reviewed. question..
DOC SAYS HOW DO YOU FEEL? patient.. ANSWER, I dont know shouldnt you ask the cdc dea or my insurance company. It seems they know more about me then either of us. signed..a person that is in such pain life is not worth living. And my life insurance will give my faa.Ilya a much better quality.of life without me in it.

Tim Mason

Increased Studies linking illicit drug use and back pain + Studies linking opioids and not opiates linked to waste of federal grant money and flawed studies indicate a “dumbing down” of elementary research studies.
Few, if any are peer reviewed.

The study referenced in this article appears to be yet another example of cooking the data until it cries surrender. Unless the study sample was in the many hundreds to thousands, several of the quoted outcomes are not scientifically meaningful. Likewise the survey appears to be self-selected and not blinded.

From talking with chronic pain patients for 20 years, I personally believe that when a patient who has been prescribed an opioid also reports using marijuana or other “illicit” drugs, the most plausible explanation is that their doctors have under-treated their pain. Moreover, Marijuana has well proven positive affects on several types of pain, while demonstrating far fewer toxic side effects. In US States like Colorado where Marijuana has been legalized, the rate of heroin use is dropping. That is NOT accidental.


This article disgusts me. It not only is degrading to REAL PAIN PATIENTS BUT A SURVEY THAT IS NOT TRUE. WHY NOT ASK THE REAL PAIN PATIENTS OF ALL WALKS. UPPER CLASS AND MIDDLE CLASS INCLUDED NOT JUST LOWER CLASS. AND NOTHING AGAINST LOWER CLASS BUT HIGHER RATE OF ILLICIT DRUG USE AND THAT IS KNOWN. AND AS FAR AS MARIJUANA IT IS LEGAL NOW FOR MEDICINAL PAIN SO SHOULD NOT EVEN BE INCLUDED. Obama created this while mess with making it difficult for pain patients to obtain medication to treat chronic pain when it is pretty hypocritical of him when he was a know gang member and drug user. Those of us who follow pain management have to basically sign our lives away with contracts. We have to take drug test ever 3 months and pull counts when asked. Now insurance companies want even fill quantities the Drs have ordered so we battle with them as well. And not even just talking about controlled meds. Regular meds such as Neurontin as well. NOTHING over 100 pills which is Bull [edit]. When a Dr orders medication it should be filled as ordered. The ins companies do no have Drs to make that call. So just what has our medical profession come to?? Drs scared to treat patients, patients being abruptly stopped off of medications that can cause severe withdrawal and psychosis, decreasing of medications causing undo stress and increase pain, INCREASE IN SUICIDE WHICH THIS SHOUKD NEVER HAPOEN AND IS ON THE RISE RAPIDLY DUE TO POOR MANAGEMENT BY PHYSICIANS. THE CDC FDA DEA AND THE WHITE HOUSE NEED TO WAKE UP AND QUIT GOING ON PETITIONS FROM ER STSFF DUE TO HERION OVERDOSES AND COCAINE AND TAGGING IT AS OPIOD OVERDOSES. CLASSIFY IT IN IT’S OWN CLASS. IT IS KILLING REAL, SAFE, COMPLIANT PAIN PATIENTS WHO FOLLOW THE LAWS. AS A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL AND A CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT I JIST CAN NOT BELIEVE WHAT IS BEING ALLOWED. I ASK ALL OF YOU TO DO AS I HAVE AND THOUSANDS MORE. WRITE TO THE CDC FDA DEA WHITE HOUSE AND MOST IMPORTANTLY YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES. TELL YOUR STORIES AND LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD. WE CAN NOT SIT BY ANY LONGER AND HE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. SO MAKE A STAND PLEASE!!!


Right on Carla! I’m similar… Have had 4 lumbar surgeries, with 2 failed lumbar disk fusions, one with instrumentation in 2005 (which I insisted be removed 2 yrs later due to horrible stabbing pain from the screws) and am now being told I need facet joint fusions! I’m so confused and frightened. I swore off surgeries and have learned soooo much in recent years about chronic pain with knowing that there is no longer hope for getting better. I’ve tried anything and everything!
I’m working hard now on acceptance but is so difficult when I have no family or proper medical support. And of course, the fear of losing my meds again..

Tim Mason

I am quoting you here: “it seems a little antagonistic to me,”
I too find it antagonistic as well as many other articles. Especially, some of the Yahoo new articles that show a 30 something saying that a minor injury got her addicted and she lost her job and family. Recently the mother of a overdosed son (18) blamed to over prescribing of medications on her son’s death. In reality, he was partying with friends and using alcohol.
Trying to ban opioids to curb deaths is like suggesting the banning of gasoline to prevent drunk driving.
Everyone these days must be a “victim” in some way.
While we are at it here is another one of my pet peeves. Arthritis articles in all media formats depict youthful patients touting an exercise or diet or home remedy to cure all pains. These are models being paid to pose for these rags.
I still struggle over a blog here about a woman that woman with CRPS, fibromyalgia, the flu and a few other ailments that swam a mile because of “stamina”. This is obvious fiction.
I had to throw my 2 cents in today.
Happy Holidays

Paula Sorrentino

Not all people who have back problems are going to smoke pot and take Cocaine and Heroin. You should interview REAL Chronic Pain Patients and you will see that we take pain medications because our pain is REAL.
I am not only disgusted but I am offended by this article. I have been living in pain due to RSD for 16+ years and it’s bad enough that I get funny looks when filling my prescriptions at my pharmacy, because I am taking strong narcotics to help manage my pain. But to have a doctor assume that all Pain Patients will take the above illegal drugs, I think it’s time for you to go back to Medical School Doctor.
And I as well as all of the other Pain Management Patients deserve an apology.
How dare you say something like this without knowing who we are. Do not jump to conclusions. Must be nice to sit and get paid to write a paper that you know nothing about.

Jean Price

Looking up the good doctor’s published research article, I found they used data from a 2009-2019 survey, not specifically designed for the single purpose of looking at back pain and illegal drug use, plus they considered anyone who had back pain for three months or more in their reviewed the data. So many factors would influence this…the age range, the areas of the country, whether they asked for current use or a history of use that might be a one time experiment, and what incentive the patient’s were given to answer honestly and thoroughly. So, why is this important for us to know? I’m not at all sure…it seems a little antagonistic to me, since back pain from degenerated disks was my first look at persistent pain and also since even as a child of the 60’s, I’ve never used illicit drugs! But then someone from the opioid witch hunters might use it for ammunition in their fight against opioids…and maybe they’ll even see it here! Really, it doesn’t say much…it can’t even deduce if back pain is an issue that could drive someone to illicit drugs if they are not treated properly by doctors and prescribed appropriate medications to help their pain! Because it didn’t investigate the timing of the use!! The biggest conclusion I could draw from the study and this article is that back pain is not being studied in ways to help people who have it…as this article states, there were “limitations” the researchers noted in their study…like NOT KNOWING WHETHER THE ILLICIT DRUG USE OCCURED BEFORE OR AFTER THE BACK PAIN!! Seriously, what a joke!! I’d say that was more than a limitation…I’d say their findings belong in the trash!

Carla Cheshire

Haydon, your situation and mine are almost identical. I too tried everything I could find to alleviate my back pain from a herniated disc before I opted for fusion surgery which, like yours was a failure. I’ve subsequently had 4 more back surgeries but none have helped and I was told by doctors there was nothing else they can do for me. I’ve been prescribed opiates for the past 13 years. I’m on the same dosage for the past 10 years.

I wish these authorities would do studies on how Americans are overworked, sitting at a computer, under constant stress, working long hours then commuting home in heavy traffic to get 4-5 hours of sleep to do it again the next day. How much does that contribute to lower back pain? They say we are prescribed so many more pain reliving drugs in US than other countries. Maybe that’s because other countries like in Europe have 4-6 weeks of paid vacation, paid maternity leave for both parents, have an hour off for lunch, and have health insurance for all. They have much less stress than American workers who have been forced by the Great Recession to do 2-3 people’s jobs and they’re too scared to say anything lest they loose theirs. Let’s see some studies on this very prevalent situation and how it leads to illness and injury. Why are we trying to blame the person in pain anyway? Like Haydon, my chronic pain was exacerbated by my surgeon. Wonder how many of us have been hurt by the doctors that are supposed to be healing us? How many of these fusions lead to chronic pain? Now that would be a good topic for a study.

scott michaels

these people are doctors. what a joke.
The future of medicine in america is a death sentence.
when the surgeon general says people can get addicted to opioid pain medication and write s ever doctor stating that they should not prescribe pain medication unless so.eone is dying feoancer is a joke. Ive known many people that have died from cancer. Yet they were not in pain. he acts surprised that they are addictive. They are addictive and cause dependency. If you live with extreme pain as i do , i made a decision to be dependent on narcotic pain relievers rather then opt to have 3 surgeries from my neck to my tail bone.
i also chose to take my high dose medication as directed. Never have i had a problem.
Now that i will not have enough to pain the medical association is purposely turning me into a drug addict. because of my pain i will be forced to look beyond my doctors office for pain relief.
When the put a max of 120 mg eq of morphene do they really believe that people wont be dependent or abusive.
If a person was taking 1 5mg of vicadin a day and it was abruptly taken away they will go thru withdrawls and if they are an addict they will search the street for what ever they can get. ARE THEy ALL REALLY THAT NIAVE.
just know. I will coordinate everything ionce i get a.list.of all the emails. We can and should win this battle.


I am truly shocked and disgusted that any professional could come to this conclusion. Somehow, after a medical misadventure that resulted in 6 major spine surgeries in 13 months with multiple spinal fluid leaks and other iatrogenic issues, all the medical questionaires focused on mental issues I should surely have. The same people that caused the problem assumed I caused it and for the next 15 years I have been treated in the same manner. This survey seems to follow the same path, except now we are all drug seekers and addicts because we have been injured or suffer with a physical medical disorder. How do they connect those dots?

Tim Mason

These young Nuevo physician don’t get it. It takes years of practicing any branch of mainstream of medicine or and science in which you obtain a college degree for. With all due respect for the author, she has a very long way to go to establish herself as a knowledgeable professional. I remember when doctors used to come into the exam room smoking a cigarette.
It is more likely that the social class of people she used for her studies were poor, had substandard beds or most often slept on a couch. Perhaps they were most often victims of parental and domestic abuse or got their gluteus maximus kicked quiet frequently.
I wonder if Mick Jagger or Keith Richard were participants in her study?
My guess is we older folk grew up with Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll and we pay for that.
Do me a study and find out how many people cLBP and why. As Paul Harvey used to say: We will be back in a moment….with the rest of the story…

Kathy C

More Bad Science!
These are the Articles that get attention, by these publications. They have to follow the current narrative. They don’t even have to be “Scientific” because no one can tell anymore. Now that this Article has been repeated because it feed into the Confirmation Bias that is already prevalent it will get lots of coverage. The Title is catchy and easy to regurgitate. I would be surprised if I don’t hear this mentioned or see it re-printed elsewhere in Social Media or even the Local Paper. This “Study” is full of Confirmation Bias, and is utterly Un-scientific. It really does not matter anymore, the facts are irrelevant. They used a selected group, to further promote the picture of Back Pain and “Drug Addicts”. They clearly started with the idea that anyone with back Pain is a drug user or addict ( According ot some now there is no distinction, between full blown addiction or someone that tried it in High School.
I would be willing to bet that they selected for Blue Collar and Low Income people with Lower back pain, to find increased rates of drug use. They avoided any white collar types who may have been injured in a week end Tennis match. This Confirmation Bias is already prevalent, since the Industries that benefit financially are the ones funding these “Studies” or now will be once this “researcher’ gets Publicized, or if it goes Viral.. There are enough caveats in here to cloud any empirical analysis. All they need is to repeat a current Industry narrative. This will allow more Doctors to deny treatment to injured people. Especially Blue Collar people, Minimum wage warehouse workers. They can also prescribe a number of useless and expensive medications that don’t work for back pain. “They don’t have enough research” Since this “Article Leads people to connect drug addiction and low back pain, they will be able to postpone or avoid diagnosing work injuries, this can help Workers Comp deny even more claims. This is a win for the Insurance Industry, Big Pharma, and the Medical Industry.
There is no Agency keeping track of how many people will be hurt worse by this false narrative. They don’t keep track of the people who will be permanently injured because they did not get a diagnosis, or a day off of work. It also helps to deny that Post Surgical issues exist either. We have entered an era of fact free pseudo Science, when garbage like this goes Viral because the Industry wants to spread doubt, it is just more profitable.

One -problem I see with this study is that it has lumped marijuana with illicit drugs. In my state, marijuana is considered a legitimate medicine in and of itself. Many medical marijuana users are also on opioids. That does not make them drug addicts. This push to label more and more people as addicts comes from the money addiction centers are getting from the government. Rates of addiction have remained the same over many decades.


Many people agree that testing can be flawed, and that statistics can be interpreted in ways to support and rationalize biased objectives and hidden agendas. I am not a statistics person, and I am not trained in analyzing data. I tracked down some information about this study, and this is what I found that may add some illumination and context. The study is at the CDC website. The article we are commenting on states that the survey was conducted on over 5,000 adults. The actual # is 1,0537. All participants resided in California. The survey was conducted prior to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California. The diseases, medical conditions, and health indicators studied include:
Cardiovascular disease
Environmental exposures
Eye diseases
Hearing loss
Infectious diseases
Kidney disease
Oral health
Physical fitness and physical functioning
Reproductive history and sexual behavior
Respiratory disease (asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema)
Sexually transmitted diseases

My biased conclusions are this:
1) 10,537 actual respondents is more than double the “over 5,000” as reported. That adds a new perspective to the statistics cited in this article.
2) 10,537 is very minor compared to the U.S. population.
3) It is open to interpretation if a segment of the population of California is representative of the average population across the United States.
4) The study was conducted prior to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California. Thus marijuana was included in the survey as being an illegal drug.
5) Marijuana counts as the largest percentage of use of illegal drugs reported in the study.
6) The study included Osteoporosis. A question would be, what is the percentage of those respondents that suffer from Chronic Low Back Pain, compared to other spinal and back conditions that fit under the apparent umbrella term of Osteoporosis?
7) Let’s split hairs over wording. Chronic Low Back Pain. Chronic. Meaning the Pain will need ongoing medical Pain mitigation medicine. Versus all the other conditions screened for in the survey, most of which do not require pain management.
8) The percentage of self-reported heroin use is low. Interesting, in light of the misguided war on opiates.
9) How the analysis of this outdated study is being reported is inflammatory and out of context in the overall scope of the study. Reporting like this further perpetuates the one-sided media feeding frenzy that promotes the misguided war on opiates that is detrimentally affecting millions of chronic pain sufferers.


I can only speak from expeience. At 37 years old I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Lower back of course. I have been a home builder all my adult life. Hard work, no education because everyone can not be college educated. I am not saying that hard work even has to be involved to have lower back, chronic pain. In my case it is true.I was observed for one full year before the orthopedic doctor I chose recommended surgery. I did’nt like it, but I was desperate to rid muself of the pain. One year after the first surgery I had to have a fusion complete with metal plates and screws. I am work oriented plus the fact that I had two sons in college at the time of my surgeries. I was placed into the failed back surgery “syndrome”. Syndrome or not, I was still in agony well after the second fusion surgery had exhausted the necesssary heal time.I have NEVER been a “drinker”, or illicit drug user. I did the post op surgery recovery PT “by the book”. I don’t know eactly where the Dr. at the University of Minnesota and colleagues found their subjects for a study but it makes me angry. Again, “by the book” type people are placed into the opioid medication group who do not have an active cancer but we are placed as the problem for opioid use, illicit especially, not as just a patient.Twenty one years after my fusion surgery failed, at 58 I am still at work, thanks to prescribed opioid medication use. Still no other drugs, only one prescribed opioid medication monitored every two months on return visit to my specialist. Still no drinking, not even “just” socially. .I am sure there are and are always going to be folks that abuse, mix scrips with illicit drugs, and drink. Drinking is legal.I am sure a great deal of us want to keep working, and I do understand a great deal of us can not and are 100% disabled. I understand because my wife is 100% disabled. I am thankful for the availability of opioid medication to help me fight the pain and remain employed. If and when a better way to control chronic pain is offered, I will be one of the first in line. For now I am just thankful for my doctor and treatment, but very leary of publications and studies damning those who have to use opioid medication for non cancer chronic pain.


i have read many articles. This one is thr winner! congratulations for the stupidest thing i’ve ever read. i have degenerative discs@ steosis@ splondytis and my lower back has incredible pain. Its not from illicit drugs its a mild case of spina bifida in conjuntion with my bones disintegrating. If i would have known i would have done cocaine and heroin to get the same result, i blew it. All those years in the 70s and 80s i turned down the drugs for fear of addiction. geez i read crack was awesome. how can you publish this type of article. are you that desperate. MY MEDICATION IS BEING CUT BY 10% MONTHLY AND MY PAIN IS COMING BACK. MY DOCTOR HAS ME TAKING INDOMYACIN FOR MY PSUEDO GOUTON MY KNEE. HE DEMANDS I TAKE 3 A DAY FOR THE PAIN. THIS DRUG MAKEs Me EXHAUSTED and alters my state if mind. They demand i take muscle relaxers which doe the same and once i nodded out while i had company at the house. btw i take as directed . Now the oxycontin has absutely no side effects. my pain goes away i am 100% aware i can drive and i am human. even though they adjusted the formula so it cant be abused all i does is help me. SOME WOULD SAY YOU ARE FETTING THE SIDE EFFECTS FROM THE OTHERS STUFF BECAUSE OD THE PAIN PILLS. NOPE@ BECAUSE I STOPPED THE PAIN PILLS FOR 2 DAYS JUST TO SEE. WELL MY KNEE HURT, MY NECK WAS KILLING.ME MY LOWER BACK TOO WAS KILLING ME AS WELL. SO THE MUSCLE RELAXERS AND INDOMIACIN ARE ONLY MIND ALTERING DRUGS TI TRY.TOO KEEP MY MIND OFF OF THE PAIN. I WAS JUST WASTED. SAME WITH WEED. THEY THINK SMOKING WEED WILL HELP MY PAIN? THAT’S A JOKE I WILL STILL BE IN PAIN BUT I’LL JUST BE WASTED AND EATING HO HOS AND COOKIES. IT’S TIME TO LET ME HAVE MY PAIN PILLS BACK, keep your weed and muscle relaxers and indomiacin. I heard people must take at.least 20 pills of the 8o mg oxycontin to become in a state of overdose. Well since i’ve never gotten high in 7 years of high dose pain medication and they’re taking it away from me without any regard of my pain; i wanted to see what the whoopla is all about so i took 8/ 60 mg er pills and chewed them so i get it all at once. I I FELT NOTHING AFTER 1 HOUR except 100% pain relief. NO NODDING OUT, NO SLURRED WORDS AND NO FEELING EUPHORIA I WILL now take TAkE 6 MORE. THAT IS 15 PILLS IN LESS THEN 2 HOURS. HEY NOW I FEEL NO PAIN AND IN A VERY GOOD MOOD. NO BREATHING PROBLEMS NO BRAIN ISSUES , i actually think i’m going to go mow my lawn. something i couldn’t do in over 6 years. Well i’m back, still alive, still no pain or slurring words.… Read more »


@Bobby Cook… you, like most of us Pain Warriors have tried it all.
I just don’t know why a ‘study’ on ‘we, the pain sufferers, is not done?!
Many studies in fact! I think our Pain Management doctors could learn a lot more from us if they would just show interest and listen.
Bobby, I’m so very sorry that you suffer so so much for serving our country. 🙁
God bless you and keep you strong. Hang in there and thank you for your post.

If they would spend more time doin research than doin these stupid surveys then there might not be so much suffering.

What a crock of [edit]. I had a hunting accident falling 15ft braking 2 vertabrae and compressing lower discs. I have never turned to illegal drugs. I would be more than happy to give my doctor a blood test. Opioids were the last resort. I have fibromyalgia too. So if you have lower back pain your automatically a heroin addict and a coke head. Come on.

CLBP is a stigma that needs to be vanquished into oblivion.

Most patients with back pain get better with exercise, weight loss and good olde fashioned clean living – what could illicit drug use do to change anything ?

“Low Back Pain” should be used prior to any diagnosis and then changed to a specific and less general term once a patient is examined and tested.

Low Back Pain lumps millions of us into that category of “malingering fake ” and now studies are based on that out of date and bias term. I think the medical community can be a lot more professional now in 2016 but that would be asking a Zebra to change his stripes.


John S

Bobby Cook

I have CLIP, BUT I AM ALSO A DISABLED VETERAN. I have had Chronic Pain for 20 years. The one thing that want people to know is that I have not and do no Medications that are not prescribed for me and at the correct dosage.
People say well maybe his pain is not as damaging as mine. Well possibly, but I can say that mine is from 23 broken bones and 18 operations. And it was not caused by a few accidents, but by alot of accidents in and out of the service.
But unfortunately, the V/A keeps cutting our pain meds back. They V/A sent me to a Pain Center outside the V/A. The Dr. gave me shots in the neck and on the lower back. Needless to say it did no good.
I might add I have been shot, stabbed, poisoned, and even been on fire.
The outside Pain Doctor changed my pain medication. To stay with the V/A’s Pain Contract I had to get it filled with the V/A. After thirty minutes of discussion they told me that they had a Contract with outside Pain Doctor which prohibits prescribing any Opiates.
I explained to the V/A doctor that I had tried everything outside of pain meds. Botox shots in the upper Spinal Column. Shots in the hips, upper back, lower back, under the kneecap of the left knee. Used every rub known, six hot showers a day, elextricate Tens unit.
I have tried Massage, Chiropractic, Heat treatments, Yoga, Chi, physical therapy, and every class with Doctors , physical Therapists, Pharmacists, Pain Physchologists, Physchiatrists, hospitalizations. And told there is not much change whatsoever expected as help from the V/A.
I won’t even though I would understand why people in Chronic Pain look for illegitimate relief.
So you wonder why your numbers look as they do.


The study seems full of holes! One should consider that those with chronic low back pain are likely to suffer from depression, as well. Depression is a very common reason for people to seek escape, through drug use. The statistical analysis of just these numbers, given in the “study” shows “rates” of addiction varying widely. The difference between those who used drugs that have chronic low back pain is 12%. The active prescription data suggests that 68% have an active opiate prescription. Oh my! Bu at, addiction seems to be steady around 1.5%. But, give the “addictionologists” forum and they will say that 50% of the people in the US are addicted! How many people have an “active” opiate prescription that do not have chronic low back pain? How many people have used “elicit” drugs that have ever been prescribed opiates? It is almost like considering people who drink milk are at an increased risk if using elicit drugs! Milk is a gateway drug!! Correlation does not mean causation, PEOPLE! In the end, it is just another reason to deny people, with chronic pain, compassionate “care”! The physicians, all, have forgotten that the relief of suffering is the one of the most common reasons for patients receiving medical care! Has physician callousness resulted in the development of an attitude that ignores that fact, completely?! Are we pushing out the exact people who would give patients compassionate care?


Hogwash. I feel that it’s yet another incomplete study that will be used against us those don’t deserve being looked at that way.

Debra McDonald

I am so angry right now!! I’ve been following this site with hundreds of other folks who are hurting because people without low back pain are screwing with our lives. I don’t know who they talked to, but I, for one may have smoked a joint or two in high school in the 70s, but even now as I sit here with my shoulder screaming with pain in my neck, knees and hip joints have NEVER ONE thought of going to the streets to ease my pain. Of all of us here … seriously, have ANY of you used and or abused street illicit drugs? It’s [edit] like this that got our pain meds yanked! I expect more from a site we have all come to in order to find some answers!

Betsy Shearer

I for one, with chronic low back pain, have never and will never use illicit drugs. I have worked in the medical field all of my life and have thorough knowledge of the side effects of using drugs “recreationaly”. I see no point in compounding the problem by further messing up the systems of my body. I do not accept the study results because I am the exception. It would be interesting to see the number of patients involved overall in this study. It gives the chronic low back pain sufferers yet another stigma which negatively affects their acquiring medication. When will the medical profession look at each patient as an individual rather than simply a statistic? I have had many surgeries for my low back pain and can demonstrate the evidence for the problem. I am preparing currently for more surgery which will help manage the pain, but not “cure” it. So often we find non medical people (“bean counters”) concluding what makes an impact on us medically. I do understand the need for oversight, but let’s take it as only observations and not gospel truth. Thank you for allowing me to vent.