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Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Feb;155(2):214-9.

Cocaine dependence with and without PTSD among subjects in the National Institute on Drug Abuse Collaborative Cocaine Treatment Study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.



This study examined the prevalence of lifetime traumatic events and current symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among treatment-seeking cocaine-dependent outpatients and compared patients with and without PTSD on current substance use, psychopathology, and sociodemographic characteristics.


The subjects were 122 adult cocaine-dependent outpatients participating in a treatment outcome study of psychosocial therapy. In addition to standard self-report and interview measures of psychopathology and substance use, the subjects completed the Trauma History Questionnaire and the PTSD Checklist before entering treatment.


These patients experienced a large number of lifetime traumatic events (mean = 5.7); men experienced more general disasters and crime-related traumas than women, and women experienced more physical and sexual abuse than men. According to self-report measures, 20.5% of the subjects currently met the DSM-III-R criteria for PTSD; the rate of PTSD was 30.2% among women and 15.2% among men. Patients with PTSD had significantly higher rates of co-occurring axis I and axis II disorders, interpersonal problems, medical problems, resistance to treatment, and psychopathology symptoms than patients without PTSD. Psychopathology symptoms represented the most consistent difference between the two groups and provided the best prediction of PTSD status in a logistic regression. However, the groups did not differ significantly in current substance use or sociodemographic characteristics.


These findings underscore the value of screening substance abusers for PTSD, because it can identify a small but substantial number who might require additional treatment. Further studies of the relationship between PTSD and substance abuse appear warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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