Young veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars face increased risk of death when they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have substance abuse problems, according to a new study.
Researchers at University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System looked at veterans of all ages, but found veterans younger than age 45 were more likely to die than older vets when they suffered from both PTSD and substance abuse.
What's interesting is the increased risk of dying included both injury-related deaths like homicide and suicide, and non-injury related deaths from health problems like heart attacks and cancer.
Lead author Dr. Kipling Bohnert, Ph.D., recommends treating veterans for both PTSD and substance abuse problems:
"Attention needs to be paid to veteran patients with PTSD, with an emphasis on identifying those who might also have a problem with drug or alcohol use. This study highlights the potential importance of effective treatment for both conditions in helping veterans after they've returned from conflict."