The behavioral genetics of alcoholism

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123 Scopus citations


Twin and adoption studies consistently implicate the importance of genetic influences on alcoholism risk, especially in men. Heritability estimates suggest that approximately 50% to 60% of the variability in alcoholism liability is associated with genetic factors. Although there has been progress in identifying specific genes that predispose toward alcoholism, we know relatively little about the nature of the genetic influence on alcoholism risk. We also know relatively little about how genetic factors combine with environmental factors to affect alcoholism risk. Genotype-environment interaction models posit that alcoholism occurs when individuals both inherit a vulnerability to develop alcoholism and environment. Such models hold great promise for understanding alcoholism's etiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by Grants AA00175 and AA09367 from the U.S. Public Health Service.


  • Alcoholism
  • Genotype-environment interaction
  • Heritability


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