Alcohol craving and demand mediate the relation between posttraumatic stress symptoms and alcohol-related consequences


Posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms are associated with alcohol-related consequences, but there is a need to understand mediators that may help explain the reasons for this relationship. Individuals with PTS may experience elevated craving and alcohol reward value (demand), which may contribute to risk for alcohol-related consequences. We examined relationships between PTS status, craving, alcohol demand, and alcohol-related consequences in PTS-positive (n = 64) and PTS-negative (n = 200) college students (M age = 21.7; 77% women; 54% Caucasian; 34% African American) who endorsed past-month alcohol use. We tested craving and alcohol demand as mediators of the relation between PTS status and alcohol-related consequences. Craving (B = .04, SE = .02, 95% CI [.01, .10]), demand intensity (B = .02, SE = .02, 95% CI [.001, .07]), and demand elasticity (B = .05, SE = .03, 95% CI [.006, .12]) significantly mediated the association between PTS symptoms and alcohol-related consequences. Craving remained a significant mediator in a multiple mediators model (B = .08, SE = .04, 95% CI [.03, .19]). Craving and alcohol demand may partially explain the relation between PTS status and alcohol-related consequences. Craving may be especially salient for individuals with PTS symptoms, as it may lead to more severe alcohol-related consequences even in the absence of elevated alcohol consumption.

Publication Title

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology