Spousal choices can influence the risk of developing alcoholism

the importance of examining both processes simultaneously, as it was missed when we analyzed spousal interactions separately."

Grant and her colleagues also assessed potential gender differences in the direction and magnitude of spousal influence, but found none. "This is quite interesting," noted Grant, "because it suggests that men and women are equally susceptible to the influences of their partner."

Both Grant and Vanyukov noted that assortative mating is likely to result in an increased proportion of offspring who will be exposed to the genetic liability of two alcoholic parents. "The offspring will have a greater chance to inherit such genes than in the case of random or non-assortative mating," said Vanyukov, "and on the population level, this would lead to an increased frequency of genotypes associated with extreme phenotypes, such as those related to an increased risk for alcoholism."

Furthermore, added Grant, clinicians need to be aware that in addition to an increased genetic risk, children with AD parents are more likely to be exposed to a high-risk environment and less likely to experience protective environmental influences.

"Detrimental environmental characteristics associated with AD include reduced educational attainment and income, fewer social and neighborhood support networks, higher rates of divorce and single parenthood, and exposure to other psychiatric disorders," she said. "These environmental factors not only increase the risk of AD for the partner of an AD individual, but also for any children in the household." She added that education is key: incorporating parental monitoring and involvement, providing coping mechanisms for when alcohol is available, educating offspring about specific risks, and discussing guidelines about responsible alcohol consumption.



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