PTSD, distress and substance use in the aftermath of October 7th, 2023, terror attacks in Southern Israel

Daniel Feingold, Yuval Neria, Dana Tzur Bitan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The October 7th, 2023, terror attacks in Israel were characterized by a scope and magnitude not previously known to Israeli citizens. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional distress and use of addictive substances among Israeli adults, approximately one month following the attacks. PTSD was assessed with the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5) and emotional distress was assessed with a brief version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25). Participants also ranked the degree of change in their frequency of use of six addictive substances. The final sample consisted of 415 Jewish and Arab Israeli adults. Results indicate that one month following the attacks, 31.4% of the total sample qualified for positive screening of PTSD. An increase in the use of tobacco, alcohol, tranquilizers and sleep medications was reported by 16.5%, 10.1%, 11.1% and 10.6% of the sample, respectively. Being at a younger age, of female sex and with increased exposure to the attacks was associated with increased levels of PTSD (β = -0.24, p < 0.001; β = 0.19, p < 0.001 and β = 0.29, p < 0.001, respectively) and increased distress (β = -0.22, p < 0.001, β = 0.26, p < 0.001 and β = 0.19, p < 0.001, respectively). Being male was significantly associated with increased use of cannabis (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 4.73, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.70–13.13, p = 0.003), and level of exposure to traumatic events was significantly associated with increased use of tranquilizers (AOR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.17–2.13, p = 0.003). The high magnitude of symptomatic response should alert other countries as they prepare for national disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-158
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume174
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Emotional distress
  • Israel
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use
  • Terror

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