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

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


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Life Change Events
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology