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Substance Use, PTSD Symptoms, and Suicidal Ideation Among Veteran Psychiatry Inpatients: A Latent Class Trajectory Analysis.

Vest NA, Rossi FS, Ilgen M, Humphreys K, Timko C. Substance Use, PTSD Symptoms, and Suicidal Ideation Among Veteran Psychiatry Inpatients: A Latent Class Trajectory Analysis. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 2021 Nov 1; 82(6):792-800.

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OBJECTIVE: In this study, we aimed to inform clinical practice by identifying distinct subgroups of U.S. veteran psychiatry inpatients on their alcohol and drug use severity, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and suicidal ideation over time. METHOD: Participants were 406 patients with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. A parallel latent growth trajectory model was used to characterize participants'' symptom severity across 15 months posttreatment intake. RESULTS: Four distinct classes were identified: 47% "normative improvement," 32% "high PTSD," 11% "high drug use," and 9% "high alcohol use." Eighty percent of the sample had reduced their drinking and drug intake by half from baseline to 3 months, and those levels remained stable from 3 to 15 months. The High PTSD, High Drug Use, and High Alcohol Use classes all reported levels of PTSD symptomatology at baseline consistent with a clinical diagnosis, and symptom levels remained high and stable across all 15 months. The Normative Improvement class showed declining drug and alcohol intake and was the only class exhibiting reductions in PTSD symptomatology over time. High substance use classes showed initial declines in suicidal ideation, then an increase from 9 to 15 months. CONCLUSIONS: The reduction in frequency of drinking and drug use for 80% of the sample was substantial and supports the potential efficacy of current treatment approaches. However, the high and stable levels of PTSD for more than 50% of the sample, as well as the reemergence of suicidal ideation in a sizable subgroup, underscore the difficulty in finding and linking patients to effective interventions to decrease symptomatology over time.

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