Parental alcohol history differentially predicts offspring disorders in distinct subgroups in Israel

Jacquelyn L. Meyers, Dvora Shmulewitz, Jennifer C. Elliott, Ronald G. Thompson, Efrat Aharonovich, Baruch Spivak, Abraham Weizman, Amos Frisch, Bridget F. Grant, Deborah S. Hasin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The association between alcoholism in parents and related disorders in their offspring is well established in cultures with intermediate/high alcohol consumption, but not in those with low consumption, such as Israel. This study investigated differences in parental transmission of alcohol problems and related psychopathology between immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) to Israel and other Israelis-two Israeli subgroups with differing alcohol consumption behaviors and social norms.

METHOD: A total of 1,347 adults from a household sample were interviewed. Regression analyses were used to examine associations between parental alcohol problems and participant disorders: alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis use disorders (AUD, NUD, CUD); antisocial personality disorder (ASPD); major depressive disorder (MDD); and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We also examined the associations of parental alcohol problems with participant disorders characterized with two latent factors: externalizing (EXT: AUD, NUD, CUD, ASPD) and internalizing (INT: MDD, PTSD). Differential parental transmission of alcohol problems in FSU (n = 315) and non-FSU (n = 1,032) Israelis was examined with statistical interaction.

RESULTS: Among emigrants from the FSU, parental alcohol problems predicted AUD, NUD, CUD, ASPD, PTSD, EXT, and INT (mean ratios = 1.38-4.83). In non-FSU Israelis, parental alcohol problems predicted only ASPD and PTSD (mean ratios = 1.08-4.09). Significant interactions were observed for AUD, CUD, PTSD, and EXT; each relationship was stronger in FSU Israelis and null (AUD, CUD, EXT) or less robust (PTSD) in other Israelis.

CONCLUSIONS: Parental alcohol problems were related to substance use and psychiatric disorders differently in FSU and other Israelis, two groups with different alcohol consumption levels and drinking norms. We propose that, in social contexts that vary in the degree to which they constrain alcohol behavior, underlying genetic predispositions may manifest as different disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-869
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismR01AA013654, T32MH13043, K05AA014223, R01DA018652, T32 MH013043, K23DA016743
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismU01AA018111


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