The relationship between parental alcoholism and adolescent psychopathology: a systematic examination of parental comorbid psychopathology

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2004 Oct;32(5):519-33. doi: 10.1023/b:jacp.0000037781.49155.a6.


The relationship between parental alcohol dependence (with and without comorbid psychopathology) and adolescent psychopathology was examined in a sample of 665 13-17 year-old adolescents and their parents. Results indicated that adolescents who had parents diagnosed with alcohol dependence only did not significantly differ from adolescents who had parents with no psychopathology in regard to any of the measures of psychological symptomatology (substance use, conduct disorder, and depression) or clinical diagnoses (alcohol dependence, marijuana dependence, conduct disorder, or depression) assessed. In contrast, adolescents who had parents diagnosed with alcohol dependence and either comorbid drug dependence or depression were more likely to exhibit higher levels of psychological symptomatology. In addition, adolescents who had parents diagnosed with alcohol dependence, depression, and drug dependence were most likely to exhibit psychological problems. These findings underscore the importance of considering parental comorbid psychopathology when examining the relationship between parental alcoholism and offspring adjustment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology