Gender differences in the development of substance-related problems: the impact of family history of alcoholism, family history of violence and childhood conduct problems

J Stud Alcohol. 2000 Nov;61(6):845-52. doi: 10.15288/jsa.2000.61.845.


Objective: This study examined gender differences regarding the relative influence of family history of alcoholism (FHA) and family history of violence (FHV) on reported childhood conduct problems (CCP) and adult problems with alcohol, drugs and violence.

Method: The participants were 110 men and 103 women with alcohol-related problems recruited within 30 days of enrolling in treatment for substance abuse or dependence. Participants completed self-report measures of pretreatment violence, FHV, CCP, substance use and consequences, and demographics; a semi-structured interview was used to assess FHA.

Results: Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses revealed gender differences with regard to the influence of FHA and FHV as important factors in the development of childhood and adult behavioral problems. For women, the influence of FHA on subsequent childhood conduct problems and adult problems with alcohol was accounted for by FHV. For men, FHA was not directly associated with CCP or adult problems with alcohol and violence, but was associated with adult drug problems. For both men and women, FHV was associated with CCP, and CCP were associated with adult problems with drugs and violence.

Conclusions: Overall, the analyses illustrate the relative importance of FHV as a risk factor in the developmental course leading to problems with drugs and violence among individuals with alcohol-related problems enrolled in treatment for substance abuse or dependence. Further, there was evidence that women may be impacted more than men by family background variables (both FHA and FHV) in terms of the development of adult problems with alcohol, drugs and violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Violence / psychology*