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Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior and alcohol dependence from adolescence to early adulthood



Genetic and environmental influences on symptoms of adult antisocial behavior (AAB) and alcohol dependence at ages 17, 20, and 24 were examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally in 188 monozygotic and 101 dizygotic male twin pairs. A moderate genetic influence on both AAB and alcohol dependence was found at each age, with a substantial proportion of this influence common to the two disorders, suggesting they share susceptibility genes. Biometrical models showed that continuity effects accounted for most of the stable variance in symptoms of both AAB and alcohol dependence, indicating that genetic and environmental effects associated with each of these disorders were similar at each age. Significant cross-lag effects (effects of alcohol dependence contributing to variance in AAB and vice versa) were observed at ages 20 and 24 for both disorders. The largest and theoretically most interesting of these effects indicated that one sixth of the genetic influence on AAB at age 20 was due to genetic effects associated with alcohol dependence at age 17. Thus, alcohol dependence symptoms at age 17 in particular had an effect on antisocial behavior symptoms at age 20, suggesting that alcohol involvement in adolescence may ensnare otherwise desisting youth in persistent antisocial behavior.The present study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA 05147) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA09367). We are grateful to a number of individuals for their assistance in coding and entering data that were not previously available. Our special thanks are due to Irene Elkins, Linda Springer, Kari Melchert, and Kristen Abernethy for their gracious and timely help.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Steve Malone, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455; E-mail:


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