HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Influence of military sexual assault and other military stressors on substance use disorder and PTS symptomology in female military veterans

Article

Servicewomen exposed to traumatic stressors over the course of their military service are at increased risk of developing symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD) and posttraumatic stress (PTS). They are also at risk for exposure to military sexual assault (MSA), which is also associated with SUD and PTS symptomology. In this study we examined the independent and combined effects of MSA and other military stressors on SUD and PTS symptomology in a sample of female veterans. Results indicate that MSA and other military stressors exhibit incremental effects on SUD and PTS symptomology. Results further suggest that women exposed to both MSA and other military stressors are at increased risk for developing co-occurring SUD and PTSD.

Abstract

Servicewomen exposed to traumatic stressors over the course of their military service are at increased risk of developing symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD) and posttraumatic stress (PTS). They are also at risk for exposure to military sexual assault (MSA), which is also associated with SUD and PTS symptomology. Research is unclear about the incremental contributions of different forms of traumatic stressors on co-occurring SUD and PTS symptomology. In this study we examined the independent and combined effects of MSA and other military stressors on SUD and PTS symptomology in a sample of female veterans (N = 407). Results indicate that MSA and other military stressors exhibit incremental effects on SUD and PTS symptomology. Results further suggest that women exposed to both MSA and other military stressors are at increased risk for developing co-occurring SUD and PTSD. These findings extend previous research on comorbid SUD and PTSD, highlighting the cumulative effects of traumatic stressors on posttraumatic psychopathology, and have implications for future research and clinical practice with female veterans.

Full Reference

Yalch, M.M., Hebenstreit, C.L., Maguen, S., 2018. Influence of military sexual assault and other military stressors on substance use disorder and PTS symptomology in female military veterans. Addictive Behaviors, 80, pp.28-33.