Prevention of Substance-Use with Student-Veterans: Beliefs System and Psychological Distress
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In the second decade of the Global War on Terrorism, more than a million veterans are returning to higher education. Readjustment from military to academic life, however, poses unique challenges for veterans who may be at increased risk for mental and substance use disorders. Mental disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), are prevalent among returning veterans and may confer risk for substance use problems. And yet, evidence on the links between psychological distress and problem drinking among this important population remains thin. Cognizant of this gap, the current study examines the associations between posttraumatic stress, depressive symptomatology, and problem drinking among college student veterans. Findings from the present study suggest that elevated levels of posttraumatic stress may be linked with increased risk for alcohol-related problems among college student veterans. Notably, no such relationship was identified between depressive symptomatology and alcohol-related problems and there does not appear to be a link between binge alcohol use and psychological distress among this population. Although preliminary, the results from the present study may have implications for practice and certainly point to the importance of conducting larger, longitudinal studies to examine the relationship between posttraumatic stress and problem drinking among this rapidly-growing and at-risk population.