Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a greater prevalence of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). This comorbidity is associated with worse illness outcomes. Yet there remains limited mechanistic understanding of how PTSD confers risk for AUD. This project aims to identify alcohol-induced changes in approach-avoidance decision-making and mediating neural networks that predict alcohol use and symptoms of AUDs over a one-year follow-up period in adults with PTSD, compared to adults with interpersonal violence exposure but no PTSD, and healthy comparison adults. Essential to successfully improving clinical prognosis in PTSD are research results that enable better prediction, diagnosis, and treatment based on the individual. Data could identify brain and behavioral mechanisms explaining how alcohol alters an important domain of PTSD, contributing to the risk for alcohol misuse and the development of alcohol problems. Results could pave the way for developing novel behavioral and pharmacological methods to treat PTSD and decrease the risk for developing comorbid AUDs.

This project is funded by the National Institutes of Health (1R01AA030740-01). Dr. Elizabeth Lippard from Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is the principal investigator of this grant.