Patterns of alcohol and drug use in adolescents can be predicted by parental substance use disorders

Joseph Biederman, Stephen V. Faraone, Michael C. Monuteaux, Jennifer A. Feighner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine the specificity of risk for alcohol or drug abuse or dependence (substance use disorders [SUDs]) in offspring exposed to particular subtypes of parental SUDs. Methods. The original sample was derived from 2 groups of index children: 140 attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) probands and 120 non-ADHD comparison probands. These groups had 174 and 129 biological siblings and 279 and 240 parents, respectively. Results. Independent of familial risk, exposure to parental SUDs predicted SUDs in the offspring. Controlling for duration of exposure, we found that adolescence was a critical developmental period for exposure to parental SUDs. Because all our analyses controlled for social class, ADHD status, and parental lifetime history of SUDs, these results show that exposure to parental SUDs predicts offspring SUDs independently of these risk factors. Conclusions. These results support the critical importance of familial environmental risk factors for the development of SUDs in youth in general and particularly in those at high risk for these disorders. These results highlight adolescence as a critical period for the deleterious effects of exposure to parental SUDs, supporting the need to develop preventive and early intervention strategies targeted at adolescents at high risk for SUDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-797
Number of pages6
Issue number4 I
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Critical period
  • Exposure
  • Substance use


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