Impulsivity interacts with momentary PTSD symptom worsening to predict alcohol use in male veterans.

Research paper by Anne C AC Black, Ned L NL Cooney, Carolyn E CE Sartor, Albert J AJ Arias, Marc I MI Rosen

Indexed on: 12 Apr '18Published on: 12 Apr '18Published in: The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent among veterans who served post-9/11, and co-occurs with problem alcohol and substance use. Studies using ecological momentary assessment have examined the temporal association between time-varying PTSD symptoms and alcohol use. Results suggest individual differences in these associations. We tested hypotheses that alcohol use measured by momentary assessment would be explained by acute increases in PTSD symptoms, and the PTSD-alcohol association would be moderated by trait impulsivity. A sample of 28 male post-9/11-era veterans who reported past-month PTSD symptoms and risky alcohol use were enrolled. On a quasi-random schedule, participants completed three electronic assessments daily for 28 days measuring past 2-h PTSD symptoms, alcohol, and substance use. At baseline, trait impulsivity was measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Past-month PTSD symptoms and alcohol use were measured. Using three-level hierarchical models, number of drinks recorded by momentary assessment was modeled as a function of change in PTSD symptoms since last assessment, controlling for lag-1 alcohol and substance use and other covariates. A cross-level interaction tested moderation of the within-time PTSD-alcohol association by impulsivity. A total of 1,522 assessments were completed. A positive within-time association between PTSD symptom change and number of drinks was demonstrated. The association was significantly moderated by impulsivity. Results provide preliminary support for a unique temporal relationship between acute PTSD symptom change and alcohol use among veterans with trait impulsiveness. If replicated in a clinical sample, results may have implications for a targeted momentary intervention.