Smoking, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol use disorders in a nationally representative sample of Australian men and women

Miriam K. Forbes*, Julianne C. Flanagan, Emma L. Barrett, Erica Crome, Andrew J. Baillie, Katherine L. Mills, Maree Teesson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) often co-occur with smoking and tobacco use disorders. Each of these disorders is known to have negative health consequences and impairment independently, but little is known about the impact of their co-occurrence. The aim of the present study is to examine the prevalence, correlates, order of onset, and impact of co-occurring daily smoking, PTSD, and AUDs. Method: The 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2007 NSMHWB) was a nationally representative survey of 8841 Australians. The survey assessed for 12-month DSM-IV mental disorders; the age respondents first started smoking daily, experienced a traumatic event, or developed problems with alcohol; and self-reported mental and physical health and impairment. Results: There were systematic patterns of co-occurrence between daily smoking, PTSD, and AUDs. Daily smoking and problems with alcohol use tended to develop after first trauma exposure, which is broadly consistent with the self-medication hypothesis. Daily smoking, PTSD, and AUDs were also associated with additive negative effects on mental and physical health and functioning, after controlling for demographics. Conclusions: Smoking, PTSD, and AUDs commonly co-occur in this nationally representative sample of Australian men and women, and this comorbidity was associated with greater severity of mental and physical health problems and impairment in several areas of functioning. This study highlights the importance of identifying and eliminating these patterns of co-occurrence, potentially through integrated interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5742
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015



  • PTSD
  • alcohol use disorders
  • smoking
  • comorbidity

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