This application proposes a four-year renewal of our study to examine the relationship between alcoholism and anxiety disorders and assess the possible mechanisms for this association by applying a family study design. In our original application, we proposed to study two transmissible forms of alcoholism: a pure form that was not associated with any major psychiatric disorder, and a form that was etiologically related to anxiety disorders. The preliminary findings confirm our original hypothesis regarding two transmissible forms of alcoholism. Alcoholism with anxiety can be distinguished from """"""""pure"""""""" alcoholism based on patterns of familial aggregation of disorders in adult relatives and, among their offspring, on patterns of psychiatric diagnoses, indicators of brain function (including neuropsychologic testing, event-related potentials and neurologic signs), and on measures of social and behavioral adjustment. In this application, we propose to: (1) increase the samples of alcoholic probands with and without anxiety disorders and their relatives in order to enhance the power of the analyses of familial transmission and comorbidity and enable multivariate analyses that incorporate the effects of gender, clinical severity and tertiary diagnosis in the probands; (2) conduct statistical analyses of the data by comparing the relatives of the alcoholic probands with those of probands with pure anxiety disorder and with relatives of normals. Data collection on the two comparison groups is currently being completed for a separate project. The proposed study is distinguished from earlier family studies of alcoholism because it (a) focuses on the comorbidity of alcoholism and anxiety disorders; (b) proposes to investigate mechanisms for comorbidity through the analysis of patterns of co-segregation of alcoholism and anxiety in families; (c) proposes to evaluate the presence of ascertainment bias among treated alcoholics by selecting probands from both treatment centers and the community. Finding from this study may have important implications for gaining understanding of the specific factors involved in the familial aggregation of alcoholism, and for prevention and intervention of this widespread and disabling disorder.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Clinical and Treatment Subcommittee (ALCP)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Yale University
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
Zip Code
Swendsen, Joel; Conway, Kevin P; Degenhardt, Louisa et al. (2010) Mental disorders as risk factors for substance use, abuse and dependence: results from the 10-year follow-up of the National Comorbidity Survey. Addiction 105:1117-28
Merikangas, K R; Conway, K P; Swendsen, J et al. (2009) Substance use and behaviour disorders in Puerto Rican youth: a migrant family study. J Epidemiol Community Health 63:310-6
Merikangas, Kathleen R; Li, Julan Julia; Stipelman, Brooke et al. (2009) The familial aggregation of cannabis use disorders. Addiction 104:622-9
Low, Nancy C P; Cui, Lihong; Merikangas, Kathleen R (2008) Specificity of familial transmission of anxiety and comorbid disorders. J Psychiatr Res 42:596-604
Sinha, R; Robinson, J; Merikangas, K et al. (1996) Eating pathology among women with alcoholism and/or anxiety disorders. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 20:1184-91
Grillon, C; Ameli, R; Merikangas, K et al. (1993) Measuring the time course of anticipatory anxiety using the fear-potentiated startle reflex. Psychophysiology 30:340-6
Merikangas, K R (1993) Genetic epidemiologic studies of affective disorders in childhood and adolescence. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 243:121-30
Luthar, S S; Anton, S F; Merikangas, K R et al. (1992) Vulnerability to substance abuse and psychopathology among siblings of opioid abusers. J Nerv Ment Dis 180:153-61
Luthar, S S; Anton, S F; Merikangas, K R et al. (1992) Vulnerability to drug abuse among opioid addicts' siblings: individual, familial, and peer influences. Compr Psychiatry 33:190-6
Rounsaville, B J; Kosten, T R; Weissman, M M et al. (1991) Psychiatric disorders in relatives of probands with opiate addiction. Arch Gen Psychiatry 48:33-42

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications