Vulnerability Reawakened: Increased Substance Use Among Aging Traumatized Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

Zahava Solomon, Karni Ginzburg*, Avi Ohry, Mario Mikulincer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study prospectively assesses the implication of (a) exposure to distant trauma of war captivity, (b) stressful life events across the life span, and (c) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) trajectories and current PTSD, on substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: One hundred and twenty Israeli ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and 65 matched veterans of the 1973 Yom Kippur War filled out self-report questionnaires in 4 waves of assessment (T1-18, T2-30, T3-35, and T4-42 years after the war). A fifth wave of assessment (T5) was conducted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 years after the war. Results: Whereas in the earlier assessments (T1-T4) war captivity was not related to substance use, during the COVID-19 pandemic (T5) ex-POWs reported higher increase of use of alcohol, tranquilizers, cannabis, and sleep medications than comparable veterans. War-induced PTSD trajectories that were prospectively measured between T1-T4, and concurrent PTSD during the pandemic (T5) were related to increase in substance use during the pandemic (T5).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-385
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • prisoners of war (POWs)
  • substance use

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