SAN DIEGO — Alcohol misuse and emotional trauma were higher among adolescents with high exposure to natural disasters, compared with their peers with lower exposure, according to data presented here.
Previous research identified long-term PTSD and depression symptoms among adults and adolescents who experienced Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010, according to researchers.
To assess postdisaster alcohol use among adolescents, Robert Fuchs, a medical student at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and colleagues evaluated data for more than 450 high school students, aged 14 to 18 years, in the St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana who experienced both the hurricane and oil spill. Participants completed surveys to determine socioeconomic status, emotional states, alcohol use and disaster exposure.
Adolescents with high exposure to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill exhibited higher levels of alcohol misuse and emotional trauma, compared with peers with lower exposure to these disasters.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that social support may help adolescent disaster victims manage feelings of depression, anger and loneliness and may reduce alcohol use. – by Amanda Oldt
Fuchs R, et al. PTSD, alcohol use disorder common in adolescents exposed to natural disasters. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 20-24, 2017; San Diego.
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