Clinical Characteristics of Women with PTSD and Concurrent Cannabis & Cocaine Use Disorders

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders frequently co-occur, and are associated with a host of complex clinical and public health challenges.
  • Additionally, the detrimental effects of concurrent substance use disorders (SUD), for example, cocaine and marijuana, have also been well-documented.

    Few studies have examined comorbid SUD among women with PTSD, however. Data for this analysis were derived from the “Women and Trauma” study conducted in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN-0015).

    Women with full or subthreshold PTSD and co-occurring cannabis use disorder (CUD) and cocaine use disorder (COD; N=99) were compared to their counterparts with co-occurring CUD only (N=26) and co-occurring COD only (N=161) on rates of trauma exposure, psychiatric disorders, psychosocial problems, and other substance use.

    In models adjusted for age and race/ethnicity, results found:

  • Women with PTSD and COD only were significantly older than their counterparts with CUD only and both CUD+COD;
  • Relative to those with CUD only, women with concurrent CUD+COD had higher odds of adult sexual assault;
  • Relative to those with COD only, women with CUD+COD had higher odds of alcohol use disorder in the past 12 months;
  • Relative to those with CUD only, women with COD only had higher odds of ever being arrested/convicted and adult sexual assault.

  • Conclusions: The higher rates of adult sexual assault and alcohol use disorder among those with concurrent CUD+COD suggest the need for trauma-informed approaches that can response to the needs of this dually-diagnosed population. Moreover, the causal link between repeated traumatic stress exposure and polysubstance use requires further examination. 

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    Funding for this Addiction Science Made Easy project is provided by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Office, under the cooperative agreement from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of SAMHSA.

    Articles were written based on the following published research:

    Ruglass LM, et al. Demographic and Clinical Characteristics of Treatment Seeking Women with Full and Subthreshold PTSD and Concurrent Cannabis and Cocaine Use Disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 2017;80:45-51.