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December 1971

Is Alcoholism Hereditary?A Review and Critique

Author Affiliations

St. Louis
From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;25(6):545-549. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750180065011

Alcoholism is a familial disorder; studies have repeatedly shown a high prevalence of alcoholism among the relatives of alcoholics. In studying a familial disorder, it is important to determine whether the illness is influenced by heredity. Separating "nature" from "nurture" is a difficult (some say impossible) task, but nevertheless, through the years, there have been a number of studies and much speculation concerning a possible role of heredity in alcoholism. The studies can be grouped into five types: (1) family studies, (2) twin studies, (3) adoption studies, (4) genetic marker studies and (5) "selfselection" animal studies.