Ptsd, alcohol problems co-occur in returning troops

Ptsd, alcohol problems co-occur in returning troops

Military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders simultaneously, a serious co-morbidity that is likely to rise as troops continue to come home. These co-occurring illnesses present treatment challenges that will be addressed as part of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) track at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.

The symposium, which is among 16 offered by NIAAA at the May 16-21 APA meeting in San Francisco, will discuss special issues for veterans living with both PTSD and alcohol use disorders, including available medication and behavioral interventions. Future directions for research, policy and clinical practice will also be identified.

"At-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders are major problems in the U.S. with three out of ten U.S. adults drinking at levels that elevate their risk for alcohol-related problems, and the rate is much higher in service members returning from deployment," says Mark L. Willenbring, M.D., director of the NIAAA Division of Treatment & Recovery Research. "Early recognition and treatment is effective and can be done by nonaddiction specialists. Since most returning service members obtain their mental health care in the community rather than the VA, psychiatrists are in a prime position to make a difference. NIAAA will present the latest research and provide the practical tools to do so."

Dr. Willenbring also will present an online press briefing called "Alcoholism: It Isn't What It Used to Be," based on findings of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. "Most people with alcohol disorders are younger drinkers with less severe disorder," says Willenbring, "If patients and physicians can recognize risky drinking and less severe dependence, we can prevent the development of severe chronic dependence. What's needed is a new public and professional understanding of the drinking patterns and early symptoms that increase risk."

The NIAAA research series at the APA Annual Meeting will also include symposia and workshops on a range of topics, such as the development of new medications for alcohol use disorders, the specifics of treating women, and the treatment of alcohol use disorders when they occur with other psychiatric conditions. Journalists may register online in advance for the meeting through Friday, May 8, 2009. Registration is free for credentialed journalists. For more information on the meeting and the scientific program, visit //


American Psychiatric Association

Veteran: "I felt like a monster" (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Psychiatry