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Toward a Comprehensive Developmental Model for Alcohol Use Disorders in Men

  • Kenneth S. Kendler (a1), Charles O. Gardner (a2) and Carol A. Prescott (a3)

Abstract

The multiple risk factors for alcohol use (AU) and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are interrelated through poorly understood pathways, many of which begin in childhood. In this report, the authors seek to develop an empirical, broad-based developmental model for the etiology of AU and AUDs in men. We assessed 15 risk factors in four developmental tiers in 1,794 adult male twins from the Virginia population based twin registry. The best fitting model explained 39% of the variance in late adolescent AU, and 30% of the liability to lifetime symptoms of AUD. AU and AUDs can be best understood as arising from the action and interaction of two pathways reflecting externalizing genetic/temperamental and familial/social factors. Peer group deviance was important in each pathway. Internalizing symptoms played a more minor role. Familial/social factors were especially important influences on AU, while genetic/temperamental factors were more critical for AUDs. We conclude that AU and AUDs in men are complex traits influenced by genetic, family, temperamental, and social factors, acting and interacting over developmental time.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Kenneth S. Kendler, MD, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics of VCU, Box 980126, Richmond, VA 23298-0126.

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