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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1990 Dec;14(6):887-92.

Alcohol use by alcoholics with and without a history of parental alcoholism.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


The association between parental history of alcoholism and the nature of alcoholism was assessed using a more reliable measure of family history (Family Tree Questionnaire) and a more comprehensive inventory of alcoholism (Alcohol Use Inventory) than used in earlier studies. Parental alcoholism was associated with more severe alcoholism on most parameters of alcohol use (age of onset, quantity, frequency, preoccupation, and sustained use) and alcohol-related problems (social, vocational, physical, cognitive, and loss of control). The association between parental history of alcoholism and more severe alcoholism in the probands was independent of age of onset of alcoholism, current age, socioeconomic background, and marital status. Parental history positive (PH+) alcoholics were more reliant on alcohol to manage their moods but did not differ significantly from parental history negative (PH-) alcoholics in the use of alcohol to improve sociability or mental functioning or to cope with marital problems. Surprisingly, the degree of concern, guilt, and worry over the negative consequences of drinking was not significantly different for PH+ alcoholics although the negative consequences were clearly much more severe for this group. While the data are inconclusive about the reasons for more severe alcoholism in PH+ alcoholics, greater reliance on ethanol to manage moods and a relative insensitivity to negative consequences could theoretically account for the vulnerability to more severe alcoholism found in PH+ alcoholics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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