Fathers’ Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Substance-Related Disorders in Offspring
Few studies have assessed how children are affected by parental alcohol consumption without clinically diagnosed alcohol problems, especially in relation to more long-term and severe consequences. The aim is to investigate how fathers’ alcohol use is related to the risk for substance-related disorders in offspring.
A prospective cohort study of 64,710 Swedish citizens whose fathers were conscripted for compulsory military training at ages 18–20 in 1969/70. Information on fathers’ alcohol consumption, frequency of intoxication, and apprehended for drunkenness, was collected during conscription. Offspring were followed for substance-related disorders from age 12 to the end of follow up in 2009.
All measures of fathers’ alcohol use were significantly and positively associated with risk for substance-related disorders in offspring. The associations were to a large extent explained by other risk factors in childhood. In the fully adjusted model, those with fathers in the highest alcohol consumption quintile still had a 63% higher risk (HR=1.63 CI 1.26–2.12) of substance-related disorders compared to those whose fathers’ reported abstinence. The highest risk was found among offspring to fathers with alcohol-related disorders or that had been apprehended for drunkenness, with a more than two-fold increased risk for substance-related disorders.
Despite the lower risk found among offspring to fathers with sub-clinical alcohol use when compared to those with alcohol-related disorders, the former group accounts for a much larger proportion of all cases of substance-related disorders in the population, prompting universal prevention efforts targeting the level of total alcohol consumption in society.
This study looked at how fathers’ alcohol use affected their children. Data was gathered from 64,710 Swedish citizens whose fathers were conscripted for compulsory military training at ages 18–20 in 1969/70. Information was collected during conscription on fathers’ alcohol consumption, frequency of intoxication, and apprehended for drunkenness. The children were followed up for substance-related disorders from age 12 till 2009.
What the researchers found was as follows:
- Father’s alcohol use, was related to risk of children developing substance-related disorders.
- Even lower levels of alcohol use with less clear signs of an alcohol problem among fathers were related to offspring substance-related disorders.
- The highest risk was among children whose fathers had more severe indicators of alcohol use.
- The associations were partly explained by other risk factors in childhood.
It is already known that problematic alcohol consumption in parents has a negative effect on children. But what we saw in our study was that even children of fathers who had a lower consumption than those with clearer signs of alcohol problems when they were 18-20 years old, had an increased risk of ending up in alcohol drug problems,” said Siri Thor, first author of the study and doctoral student at KI and investigator at C.A.N in the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, as per C.A.N. website.Siri Thor, doctoral student at KI and investigator at C.A.N in the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Siri Thor adds that the findings emphasize that prevention measures aimed at children in substance abuse environments are important. And the results clearly show how important it is to work with general preventive measures.