Behavior Genetics

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 735–741 | Cite as

A Bivariate Genetic Analysis of Drug Abuse Ascertained Through Medical and Criminal Registries in Swedish Twins, Siblings and Half-Siblings

  • Hermine H. MaesEmail author
  • Michael C. Neale
  • Henrik Ohlsson
  • Mahsa Zahery
  • Paul Lichtenstein
  • Kristina Sundquist
  • Jan Sundquist
  • Kenneth S. Kendler
Original Research


Using Swedish nationwide registry data, the authors investigated the correlation of genetic and environmental risk factors in the etiology of drug abuse as ascertained from medical and criminal registries by modeling twin and sibling data. Medical drug abuse was defined using public inpatient and outpatient records, while criminal drug abuse was ascertained through legal records. Twin, full and half sibling pairs were obtained from the national twin and genealogical registers. Information about sibling pair residence within the same household was obtained from Statistics Sweden. Standard bivariate genetic structural equation modeling was applied to the population-based data on drug abuse ascertained through medical and crime registries, using OpenMx. Analyses of all possible pairs of twins (MZ: N = 4482; DZ: N = 9838 pairs), full- (N = 1,278,086) and half-siblings (paternal: N = 7767; maternal N = 70,553) who grew up together suggested that factors explaining familial resemblance for drug abuse as defined through medical or criminal registries were mostly the same. Results showed substantial heritability and moderate contributions of shared environmental factors to drug abuse; both were higher in males versus females, and higher for drug abuse ascertained through criminal than medical records. Because of the low prevalence of both assessments of drug abuse, having access to population data was crucial to obtain stable estimates. Using objective registry data, the authors found that drug abuse—whether ascertained through medical versus criminal records—was highly heritable. Furthermore, shared environmental factors contributed significantly to the liability of drug abuse. Genetic and shared environmental risk factors for these two forms of drug abuse were highly correlated.


Drug abuse Twins Siblings Half-siblings 




National Institutes of Health (DA030005, DA025109, DA018673, DA024304).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Hermine H. Maes, Michael C. Neale, Henrik Ohlsson, Mahsa Zahery, Paul Lichtenstein, Kristina Sundquist, Jan sundquist and Kenneth S. Kendler declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This study was ethically approved by the Ethics Committee of Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, and performed in accordance with the criteria defined by the rules of the committee.

Supplementary material

10519_2016_9801_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermine H. Maes
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Michael C. Neale
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henrik Ohlsson
    • 5
  • Mahsa Zahery
    • 2
  • Paul Lichtenstein
    • 6
  • Kristina Sundquist
    • 5
  • Jan Sundquist
    • 5
  • Kenneth S. Kendler
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral GeneticsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral GeneticsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Massey Cancer CenterVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  4. 4.Department of KinesiologyKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Center for Primary Health Care ResearchLund UniversityMalmöSweden
  6. 6.Department of Medical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

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