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National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Spotlight
November 10, 2016
Veterans Less Likely Than Non-veterans To Use Marijuana and Misuse Prescription Pain Relievers
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Past Year Marijuana Use and Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use by Veteran Status: 2002 to 2012

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Every year thousands of troops leave active duty service and become military veterans within their communities. The hardships associated with military service may put veterans at an elevated risk for substance use.1 However, according to combined 2002 to 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, veterans are less likely than non-veterans2 to have used marijuana or to have misused prescription pain relievers in the past year (Figure 1). For example, about 1 in 16 veterans (6.3 percent) used marijuana in the past year compared to 1 in 13 non-veterans (7.8 percent). For more information on veteran substance use see "Prevalence of Past Year Substance Use and Mental Illness by Veteran Status in a Nationally Representative Sample" at:

http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DR-VeteranTrends-2016/NSDUH-DR-VeteranTrends-2016.pdf

The mission of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is to reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness on veterans, their families, and communities. To help our nation’s veterans, substance use prevention and treatment service providers who work with veterans can access SAMHSA information and resources at:

http://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families

  1. Bray, R. M., Fairbank, J. A., & Marsden, M. E. (1999). Stress and substance use among military women and men. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 25(2), 239-256.
  2. The average annual past year prevalence of these measures was calculated for veterans and compared with estimates for non-veterans that had been standardized to match the age group, gender, and race/ethnicity distributions of veterans since veterans differ from non-veterans on these demographic characteristics; and these demographic characteristics are associated with different substance use patterns.