Is there a relationship between cannabis use problems, emotion dysregulation, and mental health problems among adults with chronic pain?

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Cannabis is often used to manage pain among persons who suffer from chronic pain. Yet, despite much literature suggesting cannabis use problems are associated with mental health problems, little work has examined mechanisms of this relationship among a chronic pain population. Chronic pain is also associated with emotion dysregulation. Individuals with chronic pain who experience cannabis use problems may have less capacity to regulate negative emotions, which could relate to greater anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Thus, the current study explored whether emotion dysregulation explained, in part, the relation between cannabis use problems and anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among adults with chronic pain. Participants were 431 opioid-using adults with current moderate to severe chronic pain, 176 were current cannabis users, of which 30.20% reported cannabis use problems. Results indicated a significant indirect relationship between cannabis use problems and anxiety [95% CI (.03, .05)], depression [95% CI (.03, .06)], and suicidal ideation [95% CI (.01, .01)] via emotion dysregulation. Tests of specificity suggested potential for a bi-directional effect for suicidal ideation (.001). Initial findings suggest that emotion dysregulation may be an important mechanism in the relationship between cannabis use problems and mental health among adults with chronic pain.

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Psychology, health & medicine

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