Alcohol use disorder history moderates the relationship between avoidance coping and posttraumatic stress symptoms

Bryce Hruska, William Fallon, Eileen Spoonster, Eve M. Sledjeski, Douglas L. Delahanty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Avoidance coping (AVC) is common in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and in individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Given that PTSD and AUD commonly co-occur, AVC may represent a risk factor for the development of comorbid posttraumatic stress and alcohol use. In this study, the relationship between AVC and PTSD symptoms (PTSS) was examined in individuals with versus without AUDs. Motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims were assessed 6 weeks postaccident for AUD history (i.e. diagnoses of current or past alcohol abuse or dependence) and AVC. PTSS were assessed 6 weeks and 6 months post-MVA. All analyses were conducted on the full sample of MVA victims as well as on the subset of participants who were legally intoxicated (blood alcohol concentration ≥ 0.08) during the accident. It was hypothesized that the relationship between AVC and PTSS would be stronger in those individuals with an AUD history and especially strong in the subset of individuals who were legally intoxicated during the MVA. Results were largely supportive of this hypothesis, even after controlling for in-hospital PTSS, gender, and current major depression. Early assessment of AUD history and avoidance coping may aid in detecting those at elevated risk for PTSD, and intervening to reduce AVC soon after trauma may help buffer the development of PTSD + AUD comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Avoidance coping
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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