Impact


How is my dissertation research relevant to current medical conditions?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) continues to be a debilitating psychiatric disorder with limited treatment options. Lifetime prevalence of PTSD is around 7.8% in the general population with women being twice as likely as men to develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. Traumatic stress disorder symptoms are classified in four clusters that include negative affect, intrusive thoughts and memories of the traumatic event, hyperarousal, and avoidance of contexts and stimuli associated with the trauma. Patients with PTSD are at a higher risk of developing comorbid conditions such as substance use disorders than patients without PTSD. Patients with substance use disorders, particularly cocaine use disorder (CUD), present with more severe PTSD symptoms and poorer responses to PTSD treatments. Cocaine is the third most abused drug in the U.S. with over 1.1 million people meeting criteria for cocaine use disorder and an average of 4,000 people overdosing from cocaine annually. Cocaine use poses a substantial economic and health burden with approximately 40% of drug-related emergency room visits involving cocaine and 25% of said visits being directly caused by cocaine abuse. Patients who use cocaine show higher rates of experiencing a traumatic event (43% of cocaine users) and higher rates of developing PTSD as compared to other abused substances. The rate of PTSD among cocaine users is approximately twice that of PTSD among the general population. Women exhibit higher rates of cocaine dependence. Among those seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, 30.2% of women and 15.2% of men meet criteria for PTSD. Also shown, 42.9% of cocaine users present with lifetime incidence of PTSD, and 22% of current cocaine users present with current PTSD diagnoses. Cocaine users with PTSD presented with younger age of first trauma exposure and higher prevalence of sexual assault compared to PTSD patients without CUD11. Currently the specific mechanisms underlying the development of CUD in those living with PTSD are unclear. 
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