What do twin studies reveal about the inheritability of alcoholism?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

Identical twins have a higher concordance for drinking behavior and possibly alcoholism than fraternal twins.

In a well-conducted twin study of 542 families, a single underlying trait for conduct disorder, antisocial personality, alcohol dependence, and drug dependence was found, which was highly heritable and was observed in both sexes. [30] Additionally, the study found that maximal alcohol consumption of fathers was predictive of their children having behavior and substance abuse problems (>24 drinks in 24 h yielded especially high risk). Not all at-risk children developed substance use or behavior problems. The environment seemed to determine which, if any, manifested. Deviant peers and poor parent-child relationships predicted early use (age < 15 y) of alcohol, which predicted later alcohol abuse and antisocial personality. This study applies to early-onset alcoholism and type 2 alcoholism. More work is needed on later-onset alcoholism and type 1 alcoholism.


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