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Alcoholism is a heterogeneous disorder; however, characterization of life-course variations in symptomatology is almost nonexistent, and developmentally early predictors of variations are very poorly characterized. In this study, the course of alcoholic symptomatology over 32 years is differentiated, and predictors and covariates of trajectory class membership are identified. A community sample of alcoholic and neighborhood matched control families, 332 men and 336 women, was recruited based on alcoholism in the men. Symptoms were assessed retrospectively at baseline (mean age = 32) back to age 15 and prospectively from baseline every 3 years for 15 years. Trajectory classes were established using growth mixture modeling. Men and women had very similarly shaped trajectory classes: developmentally limited (men: 29%, women: 42%), developmentally cumulative (men: 26%, women: 38%), young adult onset (men: 31%, women: 21%), and early onset severe (men: 13%). Three factors at age 15 predicted class membership: family history of alcoholism, age 15 symptoms, and level of childhood antisocial behavior. Numerous measures of drinking and other psychopathology were also associated with class membership. The findings suggest that clinical assessments can be crafted where the profile of current and historical information can predict not only severity of prognosis but also future moderation of symptoms and/or remission over intervals as long as decades.
In a sample of 273 adult women and their families, we examined the effects of women's psychopathology history, their social support, their husbands' and children's symptomatology, family stress, and neighborhood environment on their alcohol problems, antisocial behavior, and depression over a 12-year period during their 30s and early 40s. Women's alcohol problems and antisocial behavior decreased but their depression symptoms increased over time. Women's disorder history and their partners' parallel symptomatology were associated with their symptoms. For women's antisocial behavior, their own history of alcoholism and their partners' alcohol problems were also significant risk factors. Higher levels of social support were associated with lower levels of depression in women. Children's externalizing behavior was positively correlated with their mothers' alcohol problems and antisocial behavior, whereas children's internalizing behavior was positively correlated with their mothers' depression. Neighborhood residential instability was associated with higher levels of alcoholic and depressive symptomatology in women. Intervention efforts might target women with young children by improving social support, educational or professional training opportunity, access to family counseling, and neighborhood environment.
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