Drug use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder over 25 adult years: Role of psychopathology in relational networks

Sundari Balan, Greg Widner, Manan Shroff, Carissa van den Berk-Clark, Jeffrey Scherrer, Rumi Kato Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: In traumatized populations, drug use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) persist for many years. Relational factors that mediate this persistence have rarely been systematically examined. Our aim is to examine the relative effects of psychopathology in familial and non-familial networks on the persistence of both disorders over adulthood. Methods: We utilized longitudinal data from an epidemiologically ascertained sample of male Vietnam veterans (n=642). Measures included DSM-IV drug use disorders, other psychiatric disorders, network problem history and time-varying marital and employment characteristics. Longitudinal measures of veterans' psychopathology and social functioning were retrospectively obtained for each year over a 25 year period. We used generalized estimating equations (GEE) to estimate the relative effects of network problems on veteran's drug use disorders and PTSD after adjusting for covariates. Results: Veterans' mean age was 47 years in 1996. Prevalence of illicit drug disorders declined from 29.8% in 1972 to 8.3% in 1996, but PTSD remained at 11.7% from 13.2% in 1972. While 17.0% of veterans reported a familial drug use problem, 24.9% reported a non-familial drug use problem. In full GEE models, a non-familial drug problem was a significant predictor of illicit drug use disorders over 25 years (OR. = 2.21, CI = 1.59-3.09), while both familial depression (OR = 1.69, CI = 1.07-2.68) and non-familial drinking problem (OR = 1.66, CI = 1.08-2.54) were significant predictors of PTSD over 25 years. Conclusions: Familial and non-familial problems in networks differentially affect the persistence of drug use disorders and PTSD in traumatized male adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-234
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • Drug disorder
  • Familial and non-familial networks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Veterans


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