June 8, 1979

AlcoholismEvidence of an X-linked Recessive Genetic Characteristic

Author Affiliations

From the Student Health Program, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

JAMA. 1979;241(23):2543-2544. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290490049028

ALCOHOLISM is a major health problem, perhaps the most significant drug addiction, and runs in families. Different investigators working in Chile, Iceland, and Sweden have published findings suggesting a genetic distribution and factor for alcoholism.1-4 They observed that for an X-linked recessive genetic characteristic, the percentage of affected males mathematically squared should equal the percentage of affected females. The sex distribution of alcoholism reported for their study populations fit the proposed model (Table 1).

Methods  Comprehensive, structured interviews covering details of the Feighner et al5 diagnostic criteria for psychiatric research and family histories were administered to all patients (N=154) seen for evaluation by this investigator during six consecutive months in a public/semiprivate psychiatric outpatient clinic attached to the Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.A diagnosis of definite alcoholism was made when symptoms were present in at least three of the four groups of symptoms outlined in Table