Study examines racial differences in alcohol involvement and trauma exposures
Trauma exposure has consistently been reported as a risk factor for alcohol use and related problems. Further, racial differences in alcohol use, alcohol use disorder (AUD), and trauma exposure between European American and African American women have been reported previously.
A new study sought to identify racial differences in alcohol involvement, and to examine the risk conferred by specific trauma exposures and PTSD for different stages of alcohol involvement in European American and African American women.
Researchers examined data from the Missouri Adolescent Female Twins Study. Trauma exposure was examined as a predictor of alcohol initiation, transition to the first AUD symptom, and transition to an AUD diagnosis – while also considering other substance involvement, parental characteristics, and commonly co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
Results showed that trauma experiences were important contributors to all stages of alcohol involvement in European American women only, with different trauma types conferring risk for each stage of alcohol involvement.
- For example, in European American women sexual abuse was associated with alcohol initiation prior to the age of 14;
- Physical abuse predicted the transition from initiation to the first AUD symptom;
- PA, witnessing injury or death, and sexual abuse predicted the transition to an AUD diagnosis.
There were no such findings in African American women.
The findings suggest that trauma, independent of PTSD, directly contributes to alcohol involvement. Further, they highlight the importance of considering racial differences when looking at linkages between traumatic experiences and alcohol involvement.