Honors Theses and Capstones

Risk Factors Associated with Opioid Misuse Among Military Personnel

Brittany Sullivan, University of New Hampshire
Semra Aytur, University of New Hampshire, Durham


Risk Factors Associated with Opioid Misuse Among Military Personnel

Opioid overdoses are increasing among military personnel. Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, synthetic opioids, and pain relievers. Almost half of all Veterans returning from deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq have chronic pain; one in six veterans turn to opioids for pain relief.

Veterans between the ages of eighteen and fifty-three are five times as likely to have a Substance Use Disorder and two times as likely to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in contrast to the general public.

Risk factors that have been shown to increase the probability of misusing opioids in the literature include prior history of substance abuse, alcohol use, mental illness, age, and male gender. However, these risk factors are not always consistent.


Data were obtained from the Opioid Registry for the military. The opioid registry contains information about opioid data management and reporting platform developed through Carepoint Military Health System Population Health Portal.

For this research, hospice, palliative, and cancer treatment patients as well as all nonmilitary personnel were removed from the data set. The final analytic sample was N=10,422.

An opioid misuse variable was developed which represented patients using opioids for over 30 days.

Multivariate logistic regression models were utilized to estimate associations between opioid misuse and patient-level risk factors (N=10,422).


Results from the logistic regression models showed that:

  • Air Force service (compared to Army) and Active Duty status decreased the risk of opioid misuse
  • Depression, PTSD, and serious mental illness have the highest risk of opioid misuse for both genders, as well in gender-stratified models.
  • Age slightly increases the risk of opioid misuse.
  • Sleep apnea increases the risk of opioid misuse, particularly for males.