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Wilson SM, Burroughs TK, Newins AR, Dedert EA, Medenblik AM, McDonald SD, Beckham JC, VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup, Calhoun PS. The Association Between Alcohol Consumption, Lifetime Alcohol Use Disorder, and Psychiatric Distress Among Male and Female Veterans. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 2018 Jul 1; 79(4):591-600.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine among veterans (a) whether alcohol consumption patterns are associated with probability of psychiatric symptoms and (b) whether an alcohol use disorder (AUD) history explains psychiatric symptoms among nondrinkers. METHOD: Data were collected from 3,003 veterans (20.5% women). Gender-stratified logistic models examined the association between alcohol consumption pattern and the odds of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidality. Two types of models were tested: four-group models comparing moderate drinkers to nondrinkers, light, and heavy drinkers; and five-group models separating nondrinkers by AUD history. RESULTS: In four-group models for both genders, compared with moderate drinkers, hazardous drinkers were more likely to have psychiatric symptoms. Among men, nondrinkers were more likely to have symptoms of depression and suicidality but not PTSD. Among women, nondrinkers and light drinkers were more likely to have PTSD symptoms. In the five-group model for men, odds of symptoms were higher for nondrinkers with an AUD history and hazardous drinkers. Compared to nondrinkers without an AUD history and light drinkers, male nondrinkers with an AUD history had higher odds of psychiatric symptoms. In the five-group model for women, the odds of symptoms were higher for hazardous drinkers. Female nondrinkers with an AUD history had higher odds of a positive depression screen. Odds of a positive PTSD screen were higher for female nondrinkers (with and without an AUD history) and light drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: For male veterans, there was a protective effect of moderate drinking (compared with abstinence) that disappeared when nondrinkers without an AUD history were separated. However, results for women showed a protective effect of moderate drinking with regard to PTSD that persisted even when an AUD history was taken into account.