Associations between duration of illicit drug use and health conditions: results from the 2005-2007 national surveys on drug use and health

Ann Epidemiol. 2010 Apr;20(4):289-97. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Feb 19.


Purpose: To estimate and compare prevalence rates of lifetime health conditions by inferred duration of illicit drug use among the general U.S. adult population and to investigate associations between duration of use of each specific illicit drug (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, or inhalant) and each lifetime health condition after controlling for potential confounding factors.

Methods: Data from respondents aged 35 to 49 (N = 29,195) from the 2005-2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were analyzed.

Results: The prevalence rates of a broad range of health conditions by duration of use of specific illicit drug among persons 35 to 49 years of age in the United States were estimated and compared. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, the results of 20 multivariate logistic regression models indicated positive associations between duration of marijuana use and anxiety, depression, sexually transmitted disease (STD), bronchitis, and lung cancer; between duration of cocaine use and anxiety and pancreatitis; between duration of heroin use and anxiety, hepatitis, and tuberculosis; between duration of hallucinogen use and tinnitus and STD; and between duration of inhalant use and anxiety, depression, HIV/AIDS, STD, tuberculosis, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, and tinnitus.

Conclusions: This study provides initial analyses on the relationships between illicit drug use and health conditions based on a large nationally representative sample. These results can help prepare for treating health problems among former and continuing illicit drug users.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Drug Users
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heroin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Heroin