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J Dual Diagn. 2011 Oct 1;7(4):262-279. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Alcohol Use, Problems, and the Course of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Prospective Study of Female Crime Victims.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.



This study examines whether alcohol use disorder status and consequences of drinking moderate the course of PTSD over the first 6 months following trauma exposure in a sample of female victims of interpersonal violence.


Female sexual and physical assault victims (n = 64) were recruited through police, hospital, and victim service agencies. Women completed structured clinical interviews and self-report measures within the first five weeks, three months, and six months post-trauma with 73% retention across all three time points (n = 47). Analyses were conducted using Hierarchical Linear Modeling using alcohol abuse/dependence, peak alcohol use, and consequences during the 30 days prior to assault as moderators of the course of PTSD over time.


Women with alcohol use disorder at baseline had lower initial PTSD symptoms but also less symptom recovery over time than women without alcohol use disorder. This pattern of results was also found for those with high negative drinking consequences during the month prior to the assault. Baseline alcohol use was not found to significantly moderate PTSD course over the 6 months.


Findings suggest that negative consequences associated with alcohol use may be a risk factor for PTSD. Incorporating assessment of drinking problems for women presenting early post-trauma may be useful for identifying PTSD risk.


PTSD; alcohol abuse; comorbidity; crime victims; rape

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