OBJECTIVE: To test the effects of father's alcoholism on the development and remission from alcoholic drinking by age 40.
METHOD: Subjects were selected from a Danish birth cohort that included 223 sons of alcoholic fathers (high risk; HR) and 106 matched controls (low risk; LR). Clinical examinations were performed at age 40 (n = 202) by a psychiatrist using structured interviews and DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria.
RESULTS: HR subjects were significantly more likely than LR subjects to develop alcohol dependence (31% vs. 16%), but not alcohol abuse (17% vs. 15%). More subjects with alcohol abuse were in remission at age 40 than subjects with alcohol dependence. Risk did not predict remission from either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.
CONCLUSION: Familial influences may play a stronger role in the development of alcoholism than in the remission or recovery from alcoholism.