Addiction 2018 02 6;113(2):336-345. Epub 2017 Sep 6.
Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, St Louis, MO, USA.
Background And Aims: Parental alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and parental separation are associated with increased risk for early use of alcohol in offspring, but whether they increase risks for early use of other substances and for early sexual debut is under-studied. We focused on associations of parental AUDs and parental separation with substance initiation and sexual debut to (1) test the strength of the associations of parental AUDs and parental separation with time to initiation (age in years) of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use and sexual debut and (2) compare the strength of association of parental AUD and parental separation with initiation.
Design: Prospective adolescent and young adult cohort of a high-risk family study, the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA).
Setting: Six sites in the United States.
Participants: A total of 3257 offspring (aged 14-33 years) first assessed in 2004 and sought for interview approximately every 2 years thereafter; 1945 (59.7%) offspring had a parent with an AUD.
Measurements: Diagnostic interview data on offspring substance use and sexual debut were based on first report of these experiences. Parental life-time AUD was based on their own self-report when parents were interviewed (1991-2005) for most parents, or on offspring and other family member reports for parents who were not interviewed. Parental separation was based on offspring reports of not living with both biological parents most of the time between ages 12 and 17 years.
Findings: Parental AUDs were associated with increased hazards for all outcomes, with cumulative hazards ranging from 1.19 to 2.71. Parental separation was also an independent and consistent predictor of early substance use and sexual debut, with hazards ranging from 1.19 to 2.34. The strength of association of parental separation with substance initiation was equal to that of having two AUD-affected parents, and its association with sexual debut was stronger than the association of parental AUD in one or both parents.
Conclusions: Parental alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and parental separation are independent and consistent predictors of increased risk for early alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use and sexual debut in offspring from families with a high risk of parental AUDs.