A prospective population based study of changes in alcohol use and binge drinking after a mass traumatic event

Magdalena Cerda, Melissa Tracy, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Few studies have assessed changes in alcohol use before and after a massive disaster. We investigated the contribution of exposure to traumatic events and stressors related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to alcohol use and binge drinking. We used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics collected in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama on adults aged 18-85 (n=439): (1) data from 1968 to 2005 on household income; (2) data from 2005 and 2007 on total number of drinks per year and number of days the respondent binged; and (3) data from 2007 on exposure to hurricane-related traumatic events and post-hurricane stressors. Exposure to each additional hurricane-related traumatic event was associated with 79.2 more drinks and 2.46 times higher odds of binge drinking for more days in the past year (95% CI: 1.09, 5.55), while more post-disaster stressors were associated with 16.5 more drinks and 1.23 times higher odds of binge drinking for more days in the past year (95% CI: 0.99, 1.51). Respondents who had followed a lower lifetime income trajectory and were exposed to more lifetime traumatic events experienced the highest risk of reporting increased alcohol use given exposure to hurricane-related traumatic events and post-hurricane stressors. Disaster-related traumatic events and the proliferation of post-disaster stressors may result in increased post-disaster alcohol use and abuse. Disaster-related exposures may have a particularly strong impact among individuals with a history of social and economic adversity, widening preexisting health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume115
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alcohol use
  • Disasters
  • Health disparities
  • Traumatic events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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