Posttraumatic stress and hazardous alcohol use in trauma-exposed young adults: indirect effects of self-disgust

Hannah Sonnier, C. Alex Brake, Jessica Flores, Christal L. Badour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders are highly co-occurring. Several explanatory models of the relation between PTSD and hazardous alcohol use have been identified. However, the exact nature of this relation is not fully understood. Self-disgust may explain the relation between PTSD symptoms and hazardous drinking. Objectives: The goal of the current study was to examine whether there was an indirect effect of probable PTSD on hazardous alcohol use via two domains of self-disgust: (disgust with characteristics of the self, disgust with one’s behavior). Participants were 376 undergraduate students who reported experiencing at least one Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for DSM Disorders, 5th edition-defined traumatic event. Participants completed self-report measures online, which assessed their trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, self-disgust, and their alcohol use behaviors. Results: Probable PTSD was indirectly associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in hazardous drinking through the pathway of increased disgust toward one’s behaviors. Although probable PTSD was also positively linked to disgust with characteristics of the self, this form of self-disgust was associated with a decreased likelihood of engaging in hazardous drinking, leading to a negative indirect relationship between probable PTSD and hazardous drinking. Conclusions/Importance: Overall, this study suggests that the role of self-disgust in the association between PTSD and hazardous drinking is complex, highlighting the need for further research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1059
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 7 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Office of Research on Women’s Health grant K12 DA035150 (Badour, C.L; PI: Curry).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Alcohol
  • PTSD
  • posttraumatic stress
  • self-disgust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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