Chapter 1

Illicit Psychoactive Substance Use, Heavy Use, Abuse, and Dependence in a U.S. Population-Based Sample of Male Twins

Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.

Laura M. Karkowski, Ph.D.

Michael C. Neale, Ph.D.

Carol A. Prescott, Ph.D.

Illicit psychoactive substance use, abuse, and dependence are major public health problems. To develop informed approaches to prevention and treatment, we need to understand the sources of individual differences in risk. Substantial evidence suggests that the liability to psychoactive substance use disorder (PSUD) aggregates in families. 1-6 Both twin 7-10 and adoption 11-13 studies suggest that part of this familial aggregation is due to genetic factors.

In the first phase of a comprehensive study of PSUD in a U.S. populationbased twin population, we examined cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogen, opiate, sedative, and stimulant use, abuse, and dependence in personally interviewed members

Accepted for publication December 1, 1999.

This work was supported by grants MH/DA-49492 and DA-11287 from the National Institutes of Health and by Research Scientist Award MH-01277 from the National Institute of Mental Health (Dr. Kendler), Bethesda, MD. The Virginia Twin Registry, established by W. Nance, M.D., Ph.D., and maintained by L. Corey, Ph.D., is supported by grants HD-26746 and NS-31564 from the National Institutes of Health.

Reprints: Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Box 980126, Richmond, VA 23298-0126.

-1-

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