Cross-generational effects on gender differences in psychoactive drug abuse and dependence

Laura C. Holdcraft, William G. Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of patients with cocaine and heroin use disorders have shown gender differences in prevalence, course, and outcome. These differences may be decreasing in successive generations. Less is known about gender differences in course and symptomatology for other illicit drug use disorders, especially in community samples. Method: Participants (1323 men and 1384 women) who were biological or step-parents of twins and born in the 1940-1960s, from the Minnesota Twin-Family Study (MTFS) were divided into two cohorts based on the median birth year. A structured interview was used to assess DSM-III-R cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine and hallucinogen use disorders. Results: There was a higher prevalence of each of these drug disorders and earlier onset of cannabis and amphetamine use disorders in later-born participants. For most drug use disorder categories, men and women were similar with respect to age of onset and severity of disorder but women had a shorter course of drug use disorders. Women with amphetamine disorders were atypical with respect to having a higher frequency of use but similar number of lifetime uses compared to men, and more emotional effects of amphetamine intoxication than men. In addition, women with amphetamine disorders were more likely to have anorexia nervosa than those without amphetamine disorders. Conclusions: These results have several implications for prevention, etiology and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA 05147) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA 09367).

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cohort effects
  • Drug dependence
  • Epidemiology
  • Gender differences
  • Social environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Cross-generational effects on gender differences in psychoactive drug abuse and dependence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this