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A Longitudinal Adoption Study of Substance Use Behavior in Adolescence

  • Brooke M. Huibregtse (a1) (a2), Robin P. Corley (a1), Sally J. Wadsworth (a1), Joanna M. Vandever (a1) (a2), John C. DeFries (a1) and Michael C. Stallings (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Although cross-sectional twin studies have assessed the genetic and environmental etiologies of substance use during adolescence and early adulthood, comparisons of results across different samples, measures, and cohorts are problematic. While several longitudinal twin studies have investigated these issues, few corroborating adoption studies have been conducted. The current study is the first to estimate the magnitude of genetic, shared environmental, and non-shared environmental influences on substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana) from ages 14 to 18 years, using a prospective longitudinal adoption design. Adoptive and control sibling correlations provided substantial evidence for early genetic effects on cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use/no use. Shared environmental effects were relatively modest, except for alcohol use, which showed increases in late adolescence (age 17 to 18 years). Sibling similarity for quantity/frequency of use also support additive genetic influences across adolescence, with some shared environmental influences for all three substances. To test the stability of these influences across time, a series of independent pathway models were run to explore common and age-specific influences. For all substances, there were minimal age-specific additive genetic and shared environmental influences on quantity/frequency of use. Further, there was a trend toward increasing genetic influences on cigarette and alcohol use across ages. Genetic influences on marijuana were important early, but did not contribute substantially at age 17 and 18 years. Overall, the findings indicate that genetic influences make important contributions to the frequency/quantity of substance use in adolescence, and suggest that new genetic influences may emerge in late adolescence for cigarette and alcohol use.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Brooke Huibregtse, Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, 1480 30th Street, Boulder, CO 80303, USA. E-mail: brooke.huibregtse@colorado.edu

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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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