Substance use disorders in high-risk adolescent offspring

Sharon Milberger, Stephen V. Faraone, Joseph Biederman, Monica P. Chu, Jennifer A. Feighner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the risk for substance use disorders (SUD) in offspring of SUD parents who were not selected due to referral to SUD treatment centers. Method: The original sample was ascertained through two groups of index children: 140 ADHD probands and 120 non-ADHD comparison probands. These groups had 174 and 129 biological siblings and 279 and 240 parents, respectively. Results: We found that: 1) parental SUD was associated with SUD and all SUD subtypes in the offspring; 2) parental alcohol use disorders were associated with alcohol use disorders in the offspring as well as co-occurring alcohol and drug use disorders but not drug use disorders alone in the offspring; and 3) drug use disorders in the parents were associated with drug use disorders but not alcohol use disorders in the offspring. Conclusions: These findings suggest that alcoholism and drug abuse may breed true from parents to their offspring, but further work with larger samples is needed to confirm this idea. Our findings also suggest a possible common diathesis that is expressed as comorbid alcohol and drug use in the offspring of alcoholic parents. If confirmed, these findings may be useful for the development of preventive and early intervention strategies for adolescents at high risk for SUD based on parental history of SUD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-219
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


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