Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) are two of the most common mental health disorders affecting civilians as well as military populations. If left untreated, individuals with co-occurring PTSD/AUD are at increased risk for developing other mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety), physical health problems, reduced resiliency and military readiness, and vocational and social impairment. Substantial gaps in the treatment of co-occurring PTSD/AUD exist and there is a critical need to develop more effective pharmacological treatments. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by testing the efficacy and safety of doxazosin, a long-acting and selective alpha-1 adrenergic antagonist, as compared to placebo in reducing PTSD and AUD severity among U.S. military veterans. Noradrenergic dysregulation has been implicated in the development and maintenance of PTSD and AUD, and pilot studies examining doxazosin in PTSD-only or AUD-only samples have shown promise. This is the first study, however, to evaluate doxazosin in a comorbid PTSD/AUD sample. This paper describes the rationale, design and methodology of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of doxazosin (16 mg/day) delivered over 12 weeks among military veterans with current PTSD and AUD. In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is applied at pre- and post-treatment to investigate the underlying pathophysiology of comorbid PTSD/AUD and identify prognostic indicators of treatment outcome. This study is designed to accelerate research on co-occurring PTSD/AUD and provide empirical evidence to inform clinical practice.
Keywords: Alcohol; Military; PTSD; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Substance use disorder; Veterans.
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