CHP Doctoral Student, Erin Ferguson, awarded dissertation grant

Published: December 20th, 2019

Category: feature post, Students

Erin FergusonErin Ferguson has been awarded a competitive Dissertation Aid Grant by the UF Center for Addiction Research and Education (CARE) to fund her dissertation project titled “Impact of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness on Demand for Alcohol and Marijuana among Co-Users”.

The overall goal of this proposal is to advance knowledge about pain as a determinant of substance use, particularly alcohol and marijuana use. A substantial body of research indicates that self-medication of pain with alcohol and marijuana (i.e. use to cope with and/or manage pain) is common among chronic pain patients, and epidemiological and observational studies suggest that pain can act as a potent motivator of substance use. Experimental evidence suggests that pain can increase urge and intention to consume alcohol, yet this relationship has not been replicated using experimental pain induction methods with greater ecological validity and clinical relevance. Further, despite similar pain-inhibitory effects and co-occurring use patterns of alcohol and marijuana, current research has not simultaneously examined the proximal effects of pain on alcohol and marijuana use. Thus, the proposed work will attempt to determine whether experimentally-induced musculoskeletal pain acts as an antecedent for increased alcohol and marijuana demand, as well as characterize relevant psychosocial factors involved in this relationship. We hope to provide evidence-based research that can be used to inform the development of novel interventions for reducing risk of substance use disorders, particularly among those with chronic pain.