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Psychiatric disorders in adult children of alcoholics: data from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area project
Am J Psychiatry 1993;150:793-800.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in individuals who did or did not have alcoholic parents. METHOD: They used data from the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area project, specifically from the Piedmont of North Carolina. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders was estimated in 408 ECA participants who reported problem drinking in their mother, their father, or both and in 1,477 age- and sex-matched subjects who did not report having alcoholic parents. RESULTS: The adult children of alcoholics showed significantly higher current (6- month) prevalence rates of simple phobia and agoraphobia and lifetime rates of dysthymia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, simple phobia, and agoraphobia. Adult children of alcoholics also had significantly more antisocial symptoms. Male children of alcoholics had higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse and reported more antisocial symptoms than did female children of alcoholics. Male children of alcoholics had a significantly higher rate of lifetime diagnoses of alcohol and drug abuse than men who were not children of alcoholics. More female children of alcoholics had generalized anxiety disorder than women who were not children of alcoholics. Both male and female children of alcoholics had significantly more antisocial symptoms than their matched comparison subjects. Sons of alcoholic fathers had a higher rate of substance abuse and more antisocial symptoms than did daughters of alcoholic fathers. Daughters of alcoholic fathers had a higher rate of generalized anxiety disorder. CONCLUSIONS: These data on adult children of alcoholics in a large community sample add to a literature based mainly on descriptive material or studies of smaller samples.

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