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August 1974

Drinking Problems in Adopted and Nonadopted Sons of Alcoholics

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (Drs. Goodwin and Guze); and the Psykologisk Institut, Department of Psychiatry, Kommunehospitalet, Copenhagen (Drs. Schulsinger, Hermansen, and Møller). Dr. Winokur is currently with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(2):164-169. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760140022003

Sons of alcoholic parentage, adopted in infancy, were compared with their brothers who were raised by the alcoholic parent. Both the adopted and nonadopted sons had high rates of alcoholism (25% and 17%, respectively), but the difference was not statistically significant. The two groups also had comparable frequency of alcohol problems. The nonadopted sons differed from the adopted sons in age (older) and belonging to a lower socioeconomic class.

Length of exposure to the alcoholic parent was not associated with the development of alcoholism. However, severity of the parent's alcoholism, as inferred by number of hospitalizations, was positively related to alcoholism in the offspring. The results suggested that environmental factors contributed little, if anything, to the development of alcoholism in sons of severe alcoholics, in this sample.

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