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PTSD & AUD Trajectories: Testing Etiologies of Risk and Novel Symptoms (PATTERNS)

PTSD and Alcohol Use


Research shows that Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) often overlap. Understanding how PTSD and AUD influence one another is critical to help with treatment of both. Patterns of PTSD and AUD might be different based on sex and gender; for example, women have higher rates of PTSD and men have higher rates of AUD. There are 3 models to understand these patterns:


  • Self-medication model: PTSD leads to AUD because a person who has PTSD may be more likely to drink to cope with PTSD symptoms 

  • Susceptibility model: Higher alcohol use might put someone at risk for more trauma exposure by altering their judgment or ability to notice and/or avoid threats and will lead to PTSD 

  • Shared liability model: Another factor related to both PTSD and AUD (genetic risk) might increase risk for both 


Most evidence supports the self-medication model but this might depend on sex/gender and it is unclear how PTSD and AUD influence each other over time. 

What is the goal of this study? 

Through this study, we aim to understand pathways between PTSD and AUD to help inform treatment and better understand who is most at risk. We will: 

  • Test models of PTSD-AUD comorbidity and test sex-specific pathways by gathering information daily from individuals across a 6-month period 

  • Examine how environmental and genetic factors contribute to pathways of risk and patterns observed 


What are we measuring and how? 

We are measuring stress and trauma exposure, psychological symptoms, alcohol and drug use, and social and environmental experiences. We will measure this in two ways: 

1) One in-person visit in our laboratory on Grady Hospital campus where we will ask  you questions about past experiences and current functioning that will last 1-2 hours 

2) Brief assessments sent directly to your phone daily for 4 weeks and then every 2 months for 6 months  

We are also collecting genetic information through a spit sample. This is so that we can understand genetic factors that may relate to both PTSD and alcohol use. 

Who are our participants? 

If you are an adult


- between ages 18-65

- who self-identifies as Black or African American,

- has experienced a traumatic event, and

- who in the past month, has drunk 4-5 (or more) drinks in a 2 to 3-hour period

you may be eligible to participate in this study.  Our study sample goal is to recruit 464 participants.  

If you are interested, please fill out this referral form.

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