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The Covariation of Antisocial Behavior and Substance Use in Adolescence: A Behavioral Genetic Perspective


  • The G1219 study was supported by the W T Grant Foundation, the University of London Central Research fund, a Medical Research Council (MRC) Training Fellowship and Career Development Award to the fifth author, and MRC programme grant G050093 awarded to the fourth author. The first author was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council doctoral studentship, and the fourth author was supported by the MRC. We thank the families for their participation, and Sally Cartwright, Georgina Hosang, Alessandra Iervolino, Jennifer Lau, Holan Liang, Maria Napolitano, Robert Plomin, Pak Sham, Abram Sterne, Eileen Walsh, and Richard Williamson for input to various stages of the project.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Tom McAdams, Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (MRC), Institute of Psychiatry, PO Box 80, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, U.K. E-mail:


Multivariate genetic studies have revealed genetic correlations between antisocial behavior (ASB) and substance use (SU). However, ASB is heterogeneous, and it remains unclear whether all forms are similarly related to SU. The present study examines links between cannabis use, alcohol consumption, and aggressive and delinquent forms of ASB using a behavioral genetic approach. Participants were 1,688 adolescents (482 monozygotic twins, 852 dizygotic twins, and 354 nontwin siblings) aged 15–23 years old (M = 16.91), sampled from the community in the U.K. Multivariate model fitting revealed that the genetic components of alcohol consumption and cannabis use correlated with those of both aggression (.21 and .49, respectively) and delinquency (.35 and .69, respectively). Results suggest that both aggression and delinquency have genetic effects in common with alcohol consumption and cannabis use.