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Gender differences in the correlates of hazardous drinking among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Scott JC, Pietrzak RH, Mattocks K, Southwick SM, Brandt C, Haskell S. Gender differences in the correlates of hazardous drinking among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013 Jan 1; 127(1-3):15-22.

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BACKGROUND: Despite increasing numbers of women veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, few studies have examined hazardous drinking in this group. The present study examined the prevalence of and risk and protective factors for hazardous drinking in a community-based sample of men and women veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND). METHODS: Veterans completed a structured survey that assessed hazardous drinking using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and a broad range of demographic, life history, and psychopathology variables. Correlations and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine risk and protective factors associated with hazardous drinking. RESULTS: A total 30.2% of male veterans and 16.3% of female veterans screened positive for hazardous drinking. In a multivariate analysis in male veterans, younger age, lifetime exposure to assaultive trauma, and conflict in interpersonal relationships were independently associated with hazardous drinking (p < .05). Among women veterans, younger age and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were independently associated with hazardous drinking in a multivariate analysis (p < .05). Secondary analyses of PTSD symptom clusters revealed that emotional numbing symptoms were independently related to hazardous drinking in women veterans (p < .05). CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study suggest that hazardous drinking is prevalent in both men and women OEF/OIF/OND veterans and is more likely to occur at younger ages. In addition, results indicate gender differences in the association between hazardous drinking and lifetime trauma history, PTSD symptoms, and interpersonal conflict, which may have important implications for the treatment of alcohol problems in men and women veterans.

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