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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012 Apr;14(2):150-8. doi: 10.1007/s11920-011-0252-9.

The influence of gene-environment interactions on the development of alcoholism and drug dependence.

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NIH/NIAAA/DICBR/LNG, 5625 Fishers Lane, Room 3S32, MSC 9412, Bethesda, MD 20892-9412, USA.


Alcoholism and drug dependence are common psychiatric disorders with a heritability of about 50%; therefore genetic and environmental influences are equally important. Early-life stress is a predictor of adolescent problem drinking/drug use and alcohol/drug dependence in adulthood, but moderating factors governing the availability of alcohol/drug are important. The risk-resilience balance for addiction may be due in part to the interaction between genetic variation and environment stressors (G × E); this has been confirmed by twin studies of inferred genetic risk. Measured genotype studies to detect G × E effects have used a range of alcohol consumption and diagnostic phenotypes and stressors ranging from early-life to adulthood past year life events. In this article, the current state of the field is critically reviewed and suggestions are put forth for future research.

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