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Br J Psychiatry. 1998 Oct;173:345-50.

Cocaine use, abuse and dependence in a population-based sample of female twins.

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Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298-0126, USA.



Although cocaine use in women has increased substantially over the past half-century, we understand little about the aetiology in women of cocaine use and abuse, and know almost nothing about the role of genetic factors.


We obtained by telephone interview a history of lifetime cocaine use, abuse and dependence from 1934 individual twins from female-female pairs ascertained through a population-based registry, including both members of 485 monozygotic (MZ) and 335 dizygotic (DZ) pairs.


The prevalence of lifetime cocaine use, abuse and dependence were 14.0%, 3.3% and 2.3%. Probandwise concordance rates, in MZ and DZ twins, respectively, were: cocaine use 54% and 42%; cocaine abuse 47% and 8% and cocaine dependence 35% and 0%. In MZ and DZ twins, odds ratios were: cocaine use 14.2 and 6.7 and cocaine abuse 40.8 and 2.7. Biometrical model-fitting suggested that twin resemblance for liability to cocaine use was due to both genetic and familial-environmental factors while twin resemblance for cocaine abuse and symptoms of dependence was due solely to genetic factors. Estimated heritabilities were: cocaine use 0.39, cocaine abuse 0.79 and symptoms of dependence 0.65.


The vulnerability to cocaine use and particularly cocaine abuse and dependence in women is substantially influenced by genetic factors.

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