Parental Transmission of Risk for Cannabis Use Disorders to Offspring

Addiction. 2015 Jul;110(7):1110-7. doi: 10.1111/add.12914. Epub 2015 Apr 27.


Aims: We investigated the risk of cannabis use disorder (CUD) among probands as a function of parental psychopathology and explored parent-offspring gender concordance as a mechanism of parental CUD transmission to offspring.

Design: Four waves of data collection from a longitudinal epidemiological study of psychopathology among a regionally representative sample.

Setting: Participants were selected randomly from western Oregon, USA, and were initially assessed during mid-adolescence.

Participants: The reference sample included 719 probands and their biological mothers and fathers.

Measurements: CUD episodes among probands were assessed with semistructured diagnostic interviews between mid-adolescence and young adulthood. Life-time psychiatric disorders among parents of probands were assessed when probands were approximately 24 years of age.

Findings: There was an increased risk for CUD onset among probands with parental histories of CUD [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.30-2.88], hard drug use disorders (HR = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.32-2.90) or antisocial personality disorder (HR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.06-2.82). A significant parent-offspring gender concordance effect indicated that females with a maternal CUD history were at higher risk for CUD onset compared with females without a maternal CUD (HR = 3.10, 95% CI = 1.52-6.34). Maternal CUD was not associated with CUD onset among males (P = 0.570), nor was there evidence for parent-offspring gender concordance effects for paternal CUD-specific transmission (P = 0.114).

Conclusions: Parental histories of antisocial personality and illicit substance use disorders are associated with increased risk for cannabis use disorder onset in offspring, especially among females with maternal cannabis use disorder histories.

Keywords: Cannabis use disorders; familial transmission; gender concordance; marijuana; parental psychopathology; substance use disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Oregon / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult