Comparison of opioid use disorder among male veterans and non-veterans: Disorder rates, socio-demographics, co-morbidities, and quality of life

Taeho Greg Rhee, Robert A Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Amidst a surging national crisis of opioid use, concern has been expressed about its impact on veterans, but no study has presented a population-based comparison of opioid use disorder (OUD) among veterans and non-veterans. We analyzed national epidemiologic data to compare rates, correlates and impacts of the opioid crisis on male veterans and non-veterans.

METHODS: Restricted data from 2012 to 2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III) were used to compare veteran and non-veteran men on rates of OUD, as well as correlates of OUD including socio-demographic characteristics, psychiatric and substance use co-morbidities, and reductions in health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

RESULTS: About 2.0% of veterans and 2.7% of non-veterans, estimated at 418,000 and 2.5 million men, respectively, met criteria for life-time OUD. In both groups, OUD was associated with younger age, lower income levels, and fewer years of education. OUD was associated minority race among veterans, but with non-Hispanic white race among non-veterans. Both veteran and non-veteran adults with OUD were at least five times more likely than their peers to have both psychiatric and substance use co-morbidities (p < .001) and they experienced strongly reduced HRQOL scores (Cohen's d = -.50 to -.93).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Veterans and non-veterans experience similar risk of OUD, similar correlates and adverse HRQOL impacts suggesting that similar treatment approaches may be effective for both groups.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings highlight comparable vulnerability of veterans to non-veterans in both the risk of OUD and adverse effects on HRQOL. (Am J Addict 2018;XX:1-9).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-100
Number of pages9
JournalThe American Journal on Addictions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Rhee had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Rhee received funding support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (#T32AG019134). The funding agency, NIH, had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript, and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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