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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Dec 1;133(2):615-24. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Alcohol use and trauma exposure among male and female veterans before, during, and after military service.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA. Electronic address:



The present study examined lifespan and combat-related trauma exposure as predictors of alcohol use among male and female veterans. Posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms were examined as mediators of the effects of trauma exposure on alcohol use.


Data were examined from 1825 (1450 male, 375 female) veterans and active duty service members who took part in a multi-site research study conducted through the Department of Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (VISN 6 MIRECC).


For both men and women, depressive symptoms significantly mediated the effects of non-combat trauma exposure experienced before, during and after the military, as well as combat-exposure, on alcohol use. With posttraumatic stress symptoms, the models for men and women differed. For men, the effects of non-combat trauma exposure during and after military service, and combat exposure, on alcohol use were mediated by PTSD symptoms; however, for women, PTSD symptoms did not mediate these relationships.


Findings are discussed in the context of potential gender differences in response to trauma such as use of alcohol to cope with traumatic events.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Alcohol misuse; Depression; PTSD; Trauma

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