The Role of Alcohol Expectancies in Drinking Behavior Among Women with Alcohol Use Disorder and Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Published in: Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, v. 46, no. 3, July-Aug. 2014, p. 178-187

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2014

by Eric R. Pedersen, Ursula S. Myers, Kendall C. Browne, Sonya B. Norman

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Understanding how alcohol expectancies relate to alcohol use among individuals with concurrent alcohol use disorder (AUD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is important to understanding and treating this comorbidity. This study examined the role of positive and negative alcohol expectancies and PTSD symptoms in drinking behavior in a comorbid female sample. Participants were women (n = 33; 56% Caucasian) seeking AUD and PTSD treatment in an outpatient community co-occurring disorders program. Hypotheses related to drinking days and alcohol problems outcomes were evaluated using negative binomial hierarchical regression. PTSD symptoms were associated with fewer reported days of alcohol-related problems. Negative expectancies related to negative changes in social behavior associated with drinking days and cognitive and motor impairment associated with problems. Both the general positive expectancies score and specific global positive change subscale were uniquely associated with drinking and alcohol-related problems days after controlling for PTSD symptom severity and negative expectancies scores. Results suggest that both negative and positive expectancies about alcohol's effects are important correlates of drinking behavior among women with AUD and PTSD, with positive expectancies playing a potentially more salient role on use and consequences than symptom severity and negative expectancies.

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