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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as a Risk Factor for Substance Use Disorder: Review and Recommendations for Intervention

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2023
6 pages

This paper discusses post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a risk factor for substance use disorder (SUD) and provides recommendations for intervention.


Co-occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) are very common, so it is crucial that SUD treatment providers incorporate initial PTSD screening and ongoing PTSD symptom monitoring. Doing so will allow for early intervention opportunities and better long-term outcomes. PTSD and SUDs often occur together, and an individual with diagnosed PTSD-SUD faces several associated long-term health risks. As a result, SUD treatment providers should consider PTSD screening at the beginning of treatment programs as well as ongoing PTSD symptom monitoring. Screening and monitoring for PTSD-SUD will allow for early intervention using strategies that are tailored for a dual diagnosis. Lifetime PTSD is a common psychiatric diagnosis (occurring in approximately 6.1 percent of adults), with even higher rates among rural, low-income communities. PTSD alone is associated with several adverse health outcomes, but individuals with PTSD also are likely to suffer from other disorders, including substance use disorders (SUDs). Individuals with both PTSD and an SUD (PTSD-SUD) report more severe long-term functional impairments than individuals with only one of these diagnoses. In addition, SUD recovery rates are much lower in people with PTSD than in those without.

Date Published: June 1, 2023