Drinking motives among heavy-drinking veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder


Objective: This study examined patterns of drinking motives endorsed by heavy drinking veterans who either did or did not meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Method: Data were collected from 69 veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) who had screened positive for hazardous drinking. The sample was 91.3% male and 65.2% Caucasian. Based on a structured interview, 58% of the sample met criteria for PTSD. Results: The PTSD group scored higher than the non-PTSD group on scales measuring drinking to cope with anxiety and depression and similarly to the non-PTSD group on scales measuring social, enhancement and conformity motives. Coping and social motives were significantly correlated with adverse alcohol consequences. Overall, the PTSD group showed stronger relations between coping scales and aspects of alcohol misuse, relative to the non-PTSD group. Conclusion: These findings suggest first, that among heavy drinking OEF/OIF veterans there is a high base rate of PTSD. Second, coping motives are frequently reported in this population, and they seem to be related to a more severe pattern of alcohol-related consequences. These findings underscore the importance of assessing the interplay between PTSD and substance abuse in trauma-exposed samples.

Publication Title

Addiction Research and Theory