The objective of the present study was to examine how symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may confer drinking risk as students with trauma histories complete college and move toward independent adulthood. Students (N = 283) completed assessments of trauma, posttraumatic stress, and alcohol use and consequences at four time points during the year following their fourth year of college. Some students had transitioned out of the college environment, whereas others had not. We examined how transition status moderated within-person associations between changes in PTSD and corresponding changes in alcohol outcomes over time. Using multilevel modeling, we examined differences in within-person PTSD-alcohol associations comparing students who were (1) continuing as fifth-year seniors, (2) graduated and pursuing graduate education, and (3) graduated and left the university setting. Alcohol use and consequences tended to decline on average from the fourth to fifth year post-matriculation. Yet, within-person increases in posttraumatic stress symptomatology across the fifth year were associated with greater alcohol consequences, but only for those students who had left the university setting. These data suggest that the transition out of college may be an important developmental context that is associated with increased vulnerability for negative consequences from stress-related drinking. Findings may have important implications for campus-based prevention efforts geared toward the facilitation of a successful transition into independent adulthood.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 4, 2017
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