Intensity of Binge Drinking a Decade After the September 11th Terror Attacks Among Exposed Individuals

Am J Prev Med. 2017 Feb;52(2):192-198. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.10.034.


Introduction: The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center resulted in elevated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use among exposed individuals. The relationship among traumatic exposure, PTSD, and excessive drinking is well documented; however, little is known about these relationships in the long term. This study examines factors increasing binge drinking risk among exposed individuals a decade post-9/11.

Methods: In 2015-2016, data were analyzed from 28,592 World Trade Center Health Registry enrollees aged ≥18 years who completed the Wave 3 (2011-2012) survey. Women comprised 38.9% of participants. Binge drinking in the last 30 days was categorized as low (men, five to seven drinks; women, four to six drinks) or high intensity (men, eight or more drinks; women, seven or more drinks). Probable 9/11-related PTSD was defined as scoring ≥44 on the PTSD Checklist. Exposures to 9/11 (e.g., witnessing horror, sustaining an injury) were categorized as none/low (zero to two) or high (three or more).

Results: Binge drinking was reported by 24.7% of participants, of whom 36.9% reported high-intensity binge drinking. Compared with non-binge drinkers, the odds of low- and high-intensity binge drinking were greater among enrollees who were male, aged 18-34 years, non-Hispanic white, had income >$75,000, were rescue/recovery workers, had high 9/11 exposure, or 9/11-related PTSD.

Conclusions: The observed associations among traumatic exposure, PTSD, and excessive drinking underscore the need for improved therapies addressing excessive drinking and PTSD concurrently, inclusion of repeated post-event screening for excessive drinking, and evidence-based population-level interventions to reduce alcohol consumption.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Binge Drinking / etiology
  • Binge Drinking / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult