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Researchers knew that there was a connection between post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance-use disorder (SUD). Also, researchers already knew that a patient with PTSD is at risk for developing a SUD–in particular drug dependence.

What researchers were uncertain of is if PTSD patients were more likely to be at a greater risk for SUD than another form of abuse, such as alcohol. It was already known that war veterans who suffer from PTSD frequently also fall victim to drug abuse. In fact one-third to one-half of SUD patients also have PTSD.

Martin Driessen, professor of psychiatry, Ev. Hospital Bielefeld, Germany, and colleagues, interviewed 459 participants (274 males, 185 females) who had sought addiction treatment. Of those 459 subjects:

  • 40% had alcohol dependence,
  • 33% had drug dependence,
  • 27% had both alcohol and drug dependence.

Researchers found the drug dependent subjects were twice as likely to also suffer from PTSD (30%) as subjects who were alcohol dependent (15%). Researchers suspected that there was going to be a higher correlation between drug dependence and PTSD, but they were surprised the precentage was so high (30%).

Sadly, PTSD was also associated with a worse outcome for a SUD patient. Typically, they had more family problems, less employment, and suffered more severe psychological symptoms. They also had a higher hospitalization rate, shorter periods of abstinence, and a higher drug craving. What the study was unable to determine was if whether PTSD was a cause or consequence of drug dependence.

The researchers suggest that clinicians examine patients with SUD to determine if PTSD is an underlying factor.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jim Moore April 27, 2008, 2:20 am

    PTSD and traumatic brain injuries will I believe have far greater long time consequences for our nation than any other single problem. And as the number of veterans with serious adjustment problems as a result of these injuries becomes larger, the government will back off further and further from offering them proper care. Already I heard on tv (not verified) that the VA is treating many symptoms of PTSD as disciplinary problems. I did a blog where I argue that the support the troops efforts may be contributing to PTSD development.


  • soniya June 6, 2008, 3:09 am

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