Substance use disorder among adoptees: A clinical comparative study

Joe Westermeyer, Linda Bennett, Paul Thuras, Gihyun Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Goals of the study were to assess whether adoptees in treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) (1) were over-, equi-, or under-represented in a clinical sample of patients with (SUD) and (2) differed demographically and clinically from non-adoptees with SUD. Sample consisted of 608 patients in two alcohol-drug treatment programs. Data collection included the Childhood Problems Scale, the Minnesota Substance Abuse Problem Scale, and the Minnesota Substance Abuse Treatment Questionnaire, and the Michigan Assessment-Screening Test/Alcohol-Drug. Findings showed that the prevalence of adoptees among SUD patients was 14 times higher than expected (95% Confidence Interval, 10 to 18 times). Adoptees reported childhood histories similar to those of non-adoptees with "any parental SUD", but they more closely resembled non-adoptees without parental SUD in regard to SUD severity and SUD treatment.Conclusion is that adoptees and their adoptive families should be alert to the increased risk of SUD among adoptees. Clinicians can expect that adoptees should manifest milder levels of SUD morbidity, similar to "non-heredity" SUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Adoption
  • Childhood
  • Morbidity
  • Substance use disorder
  • Treatment


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