Child Maltreatment History, Deployment-Related Traumatic Events, and Past 12-Month Cannabis Use Among Veterans in Canada


Objective Cannabis use among veterans in Canada is an understudied public health priority. The current study examined cannabis use prevalence and the relationships between child maltreatment histories and deployment-related traumatic events (DRTEs) with past 12-month cannabis use including sex differences among Canadian veterans. Method Data were drawn from the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Mental Health Follow-up Survey (response rate 68.7%; veterans only n = 1,992). Five child maltreatment types and 9 types of DRTEs were assessed in relation to the past 12-month cannabis use. Results The prevalence of lifetime and past 12-month cannabis use was 49.4% and 16.7%, respectively. Females were less likely than males to report lifetime cannabis use (41.9% vs. 50.4%; odds ratio [OR] 0.71; 95% CI, – 0.59 to 0.86). No sex differences were noted for past 12-month cannabis use (14.1% vs. 17.0%; OR 0.80; 95% CI, 0.60 to 1.07). Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, any child maltreatment, most individual DRTEs, and any DRTE were associated with increased odds of past 12-month cannabis use after adjusting for sociodemographic and military variables. Some models were attenuated and/or nonsignificant after further adjustments for mental disorders and chronic pain conditions. Sex did not statistically significantly moderate these relationships. Cumulative effects of having experienced both child maltreatment and DRTEs compared to DRTEs alone increased the odds of past 12-month cannabis use. Statistically significant interaction effects between child maltreatment history and DRTE on cannabis use were not found. Conclusions Child maltreatment histories and DRTEs increased the likelihood of past 12-month cannabis use among Canadian veterans. A history of child maltreatment, compared to DRTEs, indicated a more robust relationship. Understanding the links between child maltreatment, DRTEs, and cannabis use along with mental disorders and chronic pain conditions is important for developing interventions and improving health outcomes among veterans.

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Afifi TO, Taillieu T, Salmon S, et al. Child Maltreatment History, Deployment-Related Traumatic Events, and Past 12-Month Cannabis Use Among Veterans in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2023;0(0). doi:10.1177/07067437231192740