Contributions of Genes and Environment to Developmental Change in Alcohol Use

E. C. Long, B. Verhulst, S. H. Aggen, K. S. Kendler, N. A. Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The precise nature of how genetic and environmental risk factors influence changes in alcohol use (AU) over time has not yet been investigated. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to examine the nature of longitudinal changes in these risk factors to AU from mid-adolescence through young adulthood. Using a large sample of male twins, we compared five developmental models that each makes different predictions regarding the longitudinal changes in genetic and environmental risks for AU. The best-fitting model indicated that genetic influences were consistent with a gradual growth in the liability to AU, whereas unique environmental risk factors were consistent with an accumulation of risks across time. These results imply that two distinct processes influence adolescent AU between the ages of 15–25. Genetic effects influence baseline levels of AU and rates of change across time, while unique environmental effects are more cumulative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-506
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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