The literature shows that a significant number of young adults report trauma exposure and associated traumatic stress sequelae by the time they enter into college. Other students will be exposed to trauma and experience resulting sequelae during their college experience. Epidemiological and clinical literature has linked the etiology and course of trauma, traumatic stress sequelae (TSS), and substance use (SUB). This link may be understood from a Social Learning (SLT) framework which views substance use as an effort to cope with psychological distress associated with ongoing traumatic sequelae. Further, SLT posits that these phenomena are reciprocally related, and are affected by individual and environmental factors. Despite high rates of trauma, TSS,and SUB in college populations, theoretically guided, prospective examination of these associations and factors affecting their course in college students have been curiously absent in the empirical literature. This research seeks to provide a theoretically guided investigation of the dynamic course of traumatic stress sequelae and alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco use in college students. On-line survey data will be collected in 6 waves in the first year and 4 waves each year for the subsequent years. Data will be collected at two public universities. Students at SUNY Buffalo and UNC Greensboro will be contacted by e-mail in the summer prior to matriculation and will be screened via web-based survey for trauma exposure and traumatic stress sequelae. Based on this screening, a sample of 1,004 (TSS and non-TSS) students will be targeted for follow-up. Using web technology, students will be surveyed first in the Fall semester of each year in college, and will be assessed multiple times each year of the study. Prospective associations among trauma, TSS, and substance use trajectories will be examined using latent growth curve modeling. Mediators (self- efficacy) and moderators (gender, coping, social influences) will be tested consistent with Social Learning Theory, and other relevant theoretical frameworks. The impact of trauma and TSS on university drop-out rates also will be examined. This research will help to shape understanding of the TSS-SUB association, and to inform the development of targeted substance use interventions for college students. Findings also will offer valuable information for university administrators regarding student attrition and retention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
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Schulden, Jeffrey D
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State University of New York at Buffalo
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Read, Jennifer P; Bachrach, Rachel L; Wright, Aidan G C et al. (2016) PTSD symptom course during the first year of college. Psychol Trauma 8:393-403
Merrill, Jennifer E; Wardell, Jeffrey D; Read, Jennifer P (2015) Is Readiness to Change Drinking Related to Reductions in Alcohol Use and Consequences? A Week-to-Week Analysis. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 76:790-8
Radomski, Sharon A; Read, Jennifer P; Bowker, Julie C (2015) The role of goals and alcohol behavior during the transition out of college. Psychol Addict Behav 29:142-53
Merrill, Jennifer E; Wardell, Jeffrey D; Read, Jennifer P (2014) Drinking motives in the prospective prediction of unique alcohol-related consequences in college students. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 75:93-102
Wardell, Jeffrey D; Rogers, Michelle L; Simms, Leonard J et al. (2014) Point and click, carefully: investigating inconsistent response styles in middle school and college students involved in web-based longitudinal substance use research. Assessment 21:427-42
Read, Jennifer P; Griffin, Melissa J; Wardell, Jeffrey D et al. (2014) Coping, PTSD symptoms, and alcohol involvement in trauma-exposed college students in the first three years of college. Psychol Addict Behav 28:1052-64
Read, Jennifer P; Merrill, Jennifer E; Griffin, Melissa J et al. (2014) Posttraumatic stress symptoms and alcohol problems: self-medication or trait vulnerability? Am J Addict 23:108-16
Griffin, Melissa J; Wardell, Jeffrey D; Read, Jennifer P (2013) Recent sexual victimization and drinking behavior in newly matriculated college students: a latent growth analysis. Psychol Addict Behav 27:966-73
Wardell, Jeffrey D; Read, Jennifer P; Colder, Craig R (2013) The role of behavioral inhibition and behavioral approach systems in the associations between mood and alcohol consequences in college: a longitudinal multilevel analysis. Addict Behav 38:2772-81
Merrill, Jennifer E; Read, Jennifer P; Barnett, Nancy P (2013) The way one thinks affects the way one drinks: subjective evaluations of alcohol consequences predict subsequent change in drinking behavior. Psychol Addict Behav 27:42-51

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