Externalizing Symptoms Among Children of Alcoholic Parents: Entry Points for an Antisocial Pathway to Alcoholism

A. M. Hussong, R. J. Wirth, Michael Edwards, P. J. Curran, Laurie Chassin, R. A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined heterogeneity in risk for externalizing symptoms in children of alcoholic parents, as it may inform the search for entry points into an antisocial pathway to alcoholism. That is, they tested whether the number of alcoholic parents in a family, the comorbid subtype of parental alcoholism, and the gender of the child predicted trajectories of externalizing symptoms over the early life course, as assessed in high-risk samples of children of alcoholic parents and matched controls. Through integrative analyses of 2 independent, longitudinal studies, they showed that children with either an antisocial alcoholic parent or 2 alcoholic parents were at greatest risk for externalizing symptoms. Moreover, children with a depressed alcoholic parent did not differ from those with an antisocial alcoholic parent in reported symptoms. These findings were generally consistent across mother, father, and adolescent reports of symptoms; child gender and child age (ages 2 through 17); and the 2 independent studies examined. Multialcoholic and comorbid-alcoholic families may thus convey a genetic susceptibility to dysregulation along with environments that both exacerbate this susceptibility and provide few supports to offset it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-542
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Volume116
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

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Keywords

  • child psychopathology
  • externalizing symptoms
  • high-risk development
  • integrative analysis
  • parent alcoholism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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