Heritability of substance abuse and antisocial behavior: a study of monozygotic twins reared apart

Biol Psychiatry. 1990 Jun 15;27(12):1293-304. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(90)90500-2.


Thirty-two sets of monozygotic twins reared apart since shortly after birth (31 pairs and one set of triplets; median age at separation was 0.2 years) were interviewed separately and blindly using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for presence of DSM-III Axis I psychiatric disorders and antisocial personality. Because the sample was recruited from a nonclinical population, predictably few subjects met criteria for such disorders. However, items counting toward diagnoses were cumulated into four scores: alcohol-related problems, drug-related problems, childhood antisocial behavior, and adult antisocial behavior. The scores showed within-scale cohesion as measured by Cronbach's coefficient alpha. The drug scale and both antisocial scales showed significant heritability (p less than 0.1), but the alcohol scale had an estimated heritability of zero (albeit with a broad confidence interval). There appeared to be substantial commonalities in the genetic factors responsible for these traits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics