The co-occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD) is highly prevalent among military veterans and represents a difficult-to-treat comorbidity. Distress intolerance (DI; i.e., the perceived inability to tolerate negative emotional states) and anxiety sensitivity (AS, i.e., the fear of anxiety-related sensations) are two promising targetable mechanisms with potential to predict and improve treatment outcomes for veterans with PTSD/SUD. We hypothesized that PTSD symptom severity would be related to (a) alcohol use severity and (b) drug use severity through DI and AS, evaluated concurrently. Participants included 120 military veterans (98.3% male; Mage = 41.41, SD = 10.77) presenting for psychological services at a Veterans Affairs PTSD/SUD clinic. Results indicated that PTSD symptom severity was related to alcohol use severity through AS, but not DI; and PTSD symptom severity was related to drug use severity through DI, but not AS. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Keywords: Alcohol; Anxiety sensitivity; Distress; Intolerance; PTSD; Substance use; Trauma; Veterans.
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