Alcohol use and craving among Veterans with mental health disorders and mild traumatic brain injury

Amy A. Herrold*, Neil Jordan, Walter M. High, Judi Babcock-Parziale, R. Andrew Chambers, Bridget Smith, Charlesnika T. Evans, Xue Li, Trudy Mallinson, Shonna Jenkins, Theresa Louise Bender Pape

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Mental health disorders (MHDs), mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are endemic among recent Veterans, resulting in a population with heterogeneous, co-occurring conditions. While alcohol craving negatively affects rehabilitation and leads to relapse, no studies have examined alcohol craving among Veterans with co-occurringMHDs and mTBI. The purpose of this preliminary cohort study is to describe alcohol craving in a convenience sample of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (n = 48), including those exposed to traumatic events and experiencing active symptoms. Veterans completed weekly telephone interviews that included the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test, consumption questions (AUDIT-C) (week 1) and the Penn Alcohol Craving Scale (PACS) (weeks 1–6). Sixty percent of the sample screened positive on the AUDIT-C for probable AUD. Using Rasch analysis, the person separation reliability of the PACS was strong (0.87) among AUDIT-C positive Veterans. Higher PACS scores were reported among AUDIT-C positive versus AUDIT-C negative Veterans (mixed effects analysis, p < 0.001). PACS scores were higher among AUDIT-C positive Veterans with MHDs with and without mTBI versus AUDIT-C positive combat comparison Veterans (pairwise comparison, p < 0.001). Rates of hazardous alcohol use are high among Iraq and Afghanistan conflict Veterans and suggest that alcohol craving is elevated among those with MHDs with and without mTBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1397-1410
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2014


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol use disorder identification test
  • Anxiety
  • Craving
  • Depression
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Penn Alcohol Craving Scale
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psycho-metrics
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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