Study finds link between college drinking and PTSD

Jan 20, 2014

A significant number of college students have post traumatic stress disorder and are more likely to have problems with alcohol, according to new research from the University at Buffalo.

It isn't just that many college students drink too much. The problem is that around nine percent of students have PTSD, a problem often associated with the military, and drink.

UB Psychologist Jennifer Read says that's where the problem occurs. She says researchers at UB and at the University of North Carolina screened large numbers of students to find those with traumatic histories.

Read says this is more than just the problems of starting college.

"PTSD isn't just feeling badly after you have had a bad thing happen to you, which is significant and serious but it's not PTSD. PTSD is a specific cluster of symptoms which include sort of feeling badly, feeling detached from other people, re-experiencing the trauma, not feeling like you can connect with other people, being sort of aroused and anxious," Read says.

Read says the trauma can include sexual assault, auto accidents, and death of an immediate family member. She says the goal of a next-stage study is to find out how to help this particular group of students who have more problems than students who just drink too much.