What factors have been shown to increase the likelihood of later development of alcohol dependence?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Schuckit and Smith found that sons of persons with alcoholism respond differently to an alcohol challenge. [31] They report decreased subjective ratings for feeling intoxicated, and they objectively have less body sway when given the same amount of alcohol as sons of persons without alcoholism. The study population consisted of white, male college students who drank alcohol but were not alcohol dependent themselves. The fathers in this study could not have psychopathology other than alcoholism (i.e., no sociopathy, no bipolar illness).

Ten-year follow-up data have been published recently for the first half of this cohort. Of the sons of persons with alcoholism, 26% were alcohol dependent by age 30 years, as opposed to 9% of the control group. Furthermore, 56% of the sons of persons with alcoholism with lesser objective and subjective responses to alcohol became alcohol dependent, as opposed to 14% of the sons of persons with alcoholism who did not demonstrate these decreased responses. This also held true for the sons of fathers who did not have alcoholism, although the numbers were small.

Positive family history and lesser response to alcohol increased the likelihood of later development of alcohol dependence.

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