Post-traumatic stress symptons, college adjustment, and drug use in response to trauma and the September 11th attacks
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Traumatic life events can cause harmful mental health symptoms known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although not all people exposed to a trauma are diagnosed with PTSD, most experience some symptoms after a traumatic event. Even people who are far-removed from an event can experience PTSD symptoms. Trauma has also been found to make adjustment to college more difficult and increase drug and alcohol use. Previous trauma can also adversely affect one's reaction to traumatic events. Texas A&M undergraduate students (N = 149) were administered a questionnaire which included the Lifetime Involvement in Violent Events Survey (LIVES), the Substance Abuse Questionnaire, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Inventory (PTSD-I (SR)), the Hassles Assessment Scale for Students in College, the Brief COPE Scale, and scales which measured September 11[th] Exposure, PTSD symptoms, and loss of psychosocial resources. It was hypothesized that individuals exposed to previous trauma and the September 11[th] attacks would have high levels of PTSD symptoms, poor college adjustment, and higher levels of drug use. Very few participants reported direct exposure to the events of September 11[th], although more did show indirect exposure. Analyses showed that individuals who experienced violent events on the LIVES questionnaire showed higher levels of PTSD symptoms. Experiencing violent events also led to poor college adjustment and more alcohol use per setting. Gender differences revealed that women showed higher levels of sex threats and greater frequency of hassles, while men showed higher levels of alcohol per setting. Subjects who self-rated a traumatic event were significantly higher in all three categories of PTSD symptoms, avoidance, re-experiencing, and hyperarousal, than those who rated themselves as not having experienced trauma. Those who reported no trauma but had high emotional responses to an event they categorized as the worst thing that had ever happened to them also showed higher levels of PTSD symptoms than those with low emotional responses. Individuals exposed to September 11[th] also showed higher levels of PTSD symptoms and more loss of psychosocial resources.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 38-42).
Reck, Jennifer Kaye (2003). Post-traumatic stress symptons, college adjustment, and drug use in response to trauma and the September 11th attacks. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from