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The authors of the widely cited studies analyzing the Swedish adoption records of the children of alcoholics have advanced the notion that there are three distinct paths for the inheritance of alcoholism. One path results in moderate alcoholism in men and a form of somatization but no alcoholism in women. A second path results in severe and mild alcoholism in men and alcoholism in women. The third path results in a particular variety of alcohol abuse in men and a particular variety of somatization in women. This article analyzes the authors' claims. It is argued that the data were improperly analyzed for the conclusions reached and alternative parsimonious explanations for the results are offered. Although the Swedish studies do not offer support for three distinct paths of inheritance of alcoholism, they do support the inheritability of alcoholism and suggest that alcoholism may be linked with somatization in women. Unfortunately, reasonable questions can be raised about the generalizability of the data base.


This article was originally published in: J Stud Alcohol. 1988 Nov;49(6):491-509. The Swedish studies of the adopted children of alcoholics. Littrell, J.

This article is posted with permission from Alcohol Research Documentation, Inc., the publisher of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (now the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs []). This article can also be found online at: