Behavior Genetics

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 473–482 | Cite as

Challenges in Genetic Studies of the Etiology of Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders: Introduction to the Special Issue

  • Carol A. PrescottEmail author
  • Pamela A.F. Madden
  • Michael C. Stallings
Orginal paper


Misuse of psychoactive substances is associated with substantial costs to users and to society. A growing literature suggests individual differences in vulnerability to develop substance related problems are influenced to a large degree by genetic factors. We review the evidence from genetic epidemiologic and molecular genetic studies of problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, then discuss the challenges for the next generation of studies of genetic influences on substance use. These challenges are addressed in the remaining papers of this special issue. The papers cover a variety of approaches, substances, and non-human as well as human studies, but are united by their focus on going beyond heritability estimates to address the mechanisms and processes underlying the development of substance use and substance related problems, including measurement, precursors of substance abuse, stages of substance involvement, and specificity of genetic influences.


Substance use Substance abuse Review Genetic epidemiology Molecular genetics 



The editors thank Rebecca Ortiz of VCU for managing the abstract submission. Naimah Weinberg provided helpful advice during the development of the issue and John Hewitt and Christina Hewitt guided us throughout the process. We are grateful to our colleagues who provided excellent reviews of the papers appearing in this issue. We thank our universities and funding sources for supporting this effort, including the Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University, NIAAA and NIMH (for CAP), and NIDA (for PAFM and MCS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol A. Prescott
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pamela A.F. Madden
    • 2
  • Michael C. Stallings
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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