Parental psychopathology and disorders in offspring a study of relatives of drug abusers

Suniya S. Luthar, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Bruce J. Rounsaville

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44 Scopus citations


Associations between psychopathology among parents and among their offspring were examined among families of drug abusers. Patterns of transmission of disorders were examined in the context of several potential moderator variables, including gender of parent, ethnicity, and type of drug abused by the proband relative. The sample consisted of 492 parents and 673 siblings of cocaine abusers, and 400 parents and 476 siblings of opioid addicts. Results indicated that a) maternal depression was associated with several psychiatric disorders among all groups of offspring; b) paternal alcoholism yielded less powerful effects, showing associations with offspring substance abuse among blacks but not Caucasians; c) incidence of disorders among offspring showed sequential increases depending on whether neither, one, or both parents were affected; and d) there was little evidence for specificity of aggregation of disorders among these families. Results are discussed in terms of implications for empirical studies as well as intervention programming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-357
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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