Individuals exposed to a traumatic event at any time in their life, particularly those who develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have a higher incidence of problematic drinking. However, little is known about the relationship between trauma, PTSD, and drinking in """"""""emerging adults"""""""" (ages 21-30 years), in spite of this age group being at highest risk of developing subsequent drinking problems. The proposed clinical laboratory project will use a three group design. The target population will have no trauma exposure [Control group], trauma exposure without PTSD [TE group], and trauma exposure with PTSD [PTSD group]. The type of traumatic event exposure history included will be limited to interpersonal trauma. This project will use a well-established clinical laboratory paradigm of stress induction employed during the current Center funding period, the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), to investigate the role of a history of exposure to trauma on reactivity to the TSST and on stress-induced voluntary drinking. Subjects will not meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence. Half of each group will receive the TSST and the other half will be randomized to the no stress condition. Using subjective as well as biological indices of stress, the first specific aim examines the effect of trauma history on stress reactivity, using subjective, neuroendocrine, and physiological measures of stress. The second specific aim will examine the effect of trauma history on subsequent drinking behavior and subjective response to alcohol using established procedures in a clinical laboratory paradigm. Exploratory analyses will also be conducted to examine the correlation between trauma history group and subjective response to stress, and trauma history group and drinking. Two additional exploratory analyses will evaluate the effect of the personality trait of distress tolerance (high and low), and the effect of carrying the 'S'or the rare 'L{G}'allele of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism on the stress response and on voluntary drinking following stress induction. This study will advance our understanding of the relationship between a history of interpersonal trauma, stress, and drinking. The ultimate goal of this line of research is to identify """"""""at risk"""""""" groups early in their drinking careers, before unhealthy drinking practices and/or dependence develop. This information has the potential to inform prevention and intervention alcohol research.

Public Health Relevance

By providing data related to the interaction of stress and drinking from a relatively neglected group of subjects, young adults between 21-30 who have been exposed to one of the most prevalent forms of trauma interpersonal trauma, it may be possible to prevent alcohol dependence from developing and, thereby reduce the magnitude of costs to the individual and to society.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-GG (99))
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Medical University of South Carolina
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