HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Natural Course of Co‐Occurring PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorder Among Recent Combat Veterans

Article

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly co‐occur among traumatized individuals (Blanco et al., 2013).  Among those seeking Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care services, 39% screened positive for PTSD, 27% screened positive for hazardous drinking, and 16% screened positive for both (McDevitt‐Murphy et al., 2010). Veterans and nonveterans with comorbid PTSD and AUD, compared to those with only PTSD or AUD, are at increased risk for poor outcomes including earlier onset and greater severity of PTSD and AUD, greater disability, and higher suicide rates (Blanco et al., 2013). Less is understood about the course of PTSD/AUD co‐occurrence over time. Information on how co‐occurring PTSD and alcohol use fluctuate over months can guide treatment delivery.  In addition, understanding the relationship between PTSD and alcohol use can inform how mental health and substance use treatments can be integrated.

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly co‐occur among traumatized individuals (Blanco et al., 2013). Although good estimates of PTSD/AUD comorbidity among Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans are not available, among those seeking Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care services, 39% screened positive for PTSD, 27% screened positive for hazardous drinking, and 16% screened positive for both (McDevitt‐Murphy et al., 2010). Veterans and nonveterans with comorbid PTSD and AUD, compared to those with only PTSD or AUD, are at increased risk for poor outcomes including earlier onset and greater severity of PTSD and AUD, greater disability, and higher suicide rates (Blanco et al., 2013). Less is understood about the course of PTSD/AUD co‐occurrence over time. Information on how co‐occurring PTSD and alcohol use fluctuate over months can guide treatment delivery. For instance, different interventions are needed to address naturally resolving, chronic, or escalating symptoms. In addition, understanding the relationship between PTSD and alcohol use can inform how mental health and substance use treatments can be integrated.

Full Reference

Possemato, K., Maisto, S.A., Wade, M., Barrie, K., Johnson, E.M., Ouimette, P.C., 2017. Natural Course of Co‐Occurring PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorder Among Recent Combat Veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30(3), pp.279-287.