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Consuming alcohol, substance abuse may worse PTSD symptoms in veterans

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 June 2017, 17:23 IST

Aggressive behaviour, consuming alcohol or drugs may numb or control the distress, but a study has found that veterans, engaged in risky behaviour, could worsen the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

The study also found that repeated stressful experiences could have harmful consequences for those with PTSD.

The findings indicated that veterans are at around 50 percent higher risk of suicide than civilians. They are also more frequently incarcerated for violent offenses and more likely to drive recklessly. Veterans also have higher rates of binge drinking and pathological gambling than their non-veteran counterparts.

Study's corresponding author Dr Naomi Sadeh said that individuals with PTSD, exposure to new stressful events will often prolong their symptoms and can even make them worse. So these findings suggest that treatment providers should ask trauma-exposed veterans about reckless behaviour to make sure they are not engaging in harmful behaviours that could make their PTSD symptoms worse.

Recent research has found evidence of a link between risky behaviour and PTSD.

The team assessed more than 200 veterans with PTSD diagnoses for both PTSD severity and reckless behaviour.

Four years later, nearly three-quarters had engaged in reckless or self-destructive behaviour at least once in the five years before the study.

The most common behaviours identified in this study were dangerous alcohol or drug use, drunken driving, gambling and aggression.

The researchers found a correlation between risky behaviour and higher PTSD severity at both time points.

The results lend further evidence that risky behaviour is common among trauma-exposed veterans.

Sadeh noted that these type of high-risk behaviours appear to be common among veterans, who have experienced trauma.

In the time, between the two tests, 82 percent of participants experienced at least one potentially traumatic event.

These events included experiencing the sudden death of a friend or loved one; being threatened with or being the victim of a physical assault; being involved in a motor vehicle accident, or witnessing any severe accident; experiencing a life-threatening or disabling event affecting a loved one, or coping with a life-threatening illness.

The findings suggest that many veterans with PTSD continue to experience stressful events that may prolong or worsen their PTSD symptoms, even years after the initial trauma.

The results appeared in the journal of Traumatic Stress.


First published: 16 June 2017, 17:23 IST