Purpose: Data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA), a high-risk family study of alcohol dependence, were used to examine differences in alcohol diagnostic criteria endorsement and psychiatric and drug use disorders by gender and by number of DUI offenses.
Results: Individuals with two or more DUIs exhibited greater severity of alcohol dependence than those with none or one DUI. This severity was characterized in three ways: (1) higher endorsement of alcohol diagnostic criterion items, with evidence of greater severity among women, (2) higher prevalence of co-occurring lifetime psychiatric disorders, and (3) higher rates of drug use and of dependence on cocaine, stimulants, and, for women only, marijuana and opiates.
Conclusions: By examining gradations of disorder within a combination of two high-risk indicators, DUI and family vulnerability, this study provides useful information for clinical research about individuals with chronic and severe alcohol problems. In addition, the observed gender differences in this high-risk sample will contribute to the literature on alcohol dependence among women at the more severe end of the dependence spectrum.