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Addict Behav. 2009 Nov;34(11):965-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.05.004. Epub 2009 May 19.

Prospective effects of sexual victimization on PTSD and problem drinking.

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University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607-7137, United States.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and problem drinking are common and often co-occurring sequelae experienced by women survivors of adult sexual assault, yet it remains unclear whether survivors drink to cope with PTSD symptoms or whether PTSD symptoms are exacerbated by drinking. Thus, we used a cross-lagged panel design with a large (N=555), ethnically diverse sample of women assault survivors to determine whether PTSD prospectively led to problem drinking or vice versa. We also examined whether cumulative sexual victimization experiences related to greater PTSD and problem drinking. Structural equation modeling revealed that child sexual abuse was associated with greater symptoms of PTSD and problem drinking and intervening sexual victimization was associated with greater symptoms of PTSD and problem drinking 1 year later. We found no evidence, however, that PTSD directly influenced problem drinking over the long term, or vice versa. Rather, experiencing revictimization during the study predicted survivors' prospective PTSD and problem drinking symptoms. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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