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Behav Genet. 2006 Jul;36(4):473-82. Epub 2006 May 19.

Challenges in genetic studies of the etiology of substance use and substance use disorders: introduction to the special issue.

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Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, SGM 501, Los Angeles, CA, 90036, USA.


Misuse of psychoactive substances is associated with substantial costs to users and to society. A growing literature suggests individual differences in vulnerability to develop substance related problems are influenced to a large degree by genetic factors. We review the evidence from genetic epidemiologic and molecular genetic studies of problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, then discuss the challenges for the next generation of studies of genetic influences on substance use. These challenges are addressed in the remaining papers of this special issue. The papers cover a variety of approaches, substances, and non-human as well as human studies, but are united by their focus on going beyond heritability estimates to address the mechanisms and processes underlying the development of substance use and substance related problems, including measurement, precursors of substance abuse, stages of substance involvement, and specificity of genetic influences.

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