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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly co-occur, share latent genetic risk, and are associated with many negative public health outcomes. Via a self-medication framework, trauma-related drinking to cope (TRD), an unexplored phenotype to date, may help explain why these two disorders co-occur, thus serving as an essential target for treatment and prevention efforts. This study sought to create a novel measure of TRD and to investigate its indirect influences on the association between PTSD and AUD, as well as its potential shared molecular genetic risk with PTSD in a genetically-informative study of college students. A sample of 1,896 undergraduate students with a history of trauma and alcohol use provided genotypic data and completed an online assessment battery. The psychometric properties of TRD and how it relates to relevant constructs were examined using descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling. Results of a correlated multiple mediator model indicated that, while accounting for the effects of generalized drinking motives, TRD partially mediated the relation between PTSD and alcohol use problems (β = 0.213, p < .001), consistent with the self-medication hypothesis, and that this relationship was stronger for males (β = 0.804, p < .001) than for females (β = 0.463, p < .001). Results were substantiated using longitudinal data. Genotypic analyses to be presented will include univariate genome wide complex trait analyses (GCTA) to establish SNP-based heritability associated with TRD and PTSD, separately, as well as bivariate GCTA to examine potential overlap in heritability between TRD and PTSD.

Publication Date



PTSD, Alcohol, Drinking Motives, Coping, Self-medication


Mental Disorders | Psychological Phenomena and Processes

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Ananda B Amstadter

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Evaluation of a new trauma-related drinking to cope measure: Latent structure and heritability