Drinking motives and PTSD-related alcohol expectancies among combat veterans


Introduction Combat veterans are at increased risk for PTSD and alcohol misuse, and expectancies and motives for drinking may help explain the link between these comorbid issues. This investigation explored the relationships between PTSD symptoms, PTSD-related alcohol expectancies, motives for drinking, and alcohol consumption/misuse. Method 67 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) participated in this project. We examined correlations between PTSD severity, alcohol misuse, drinking motives, PTSD alcohol expectancies, and tested models of mediation and moderation. Results Coping-anxiety drinking motives and positive PTSD-related alcohol expectancies were associated with alcohol misuse and alcohol-related consequences, but not with consumption. Each PTSD symptom cluster was associated with positive and negative PTSD alcohol expectancies, and coping-anxiety was specifically related to reexperiencing and avoidance. Drinking to cope mediated the relationship between PTSD symptoms and hazardous drinking. Moderation analyses showed that a positive relationship between PTSD severity and hazardous drinking existed among those with moderate and higher levels of positive PTSD-alcohol expectancies. Discussion Our findings point to surprising, and in some cases complex, relationships between PTSD and alcohol use. Although related, PTSD alcohol expectancies and drinking motives seem to function differently in the relationship between PTSD and alcohol misuse.

Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors