The goal of the current investigation was to examine genetic and environmental predictors of early alcohol use, a potent predictor of later alcohol dependence.
Early alcohol use was predicted by maltreatment, 5-HTTLPR, and a gene by environment interaction, with increased risk for early alcohol use associated with the s-allele.
Psychopathology at baseline, severity of maltreatment, and poor mother–child relations also predicted early alcohol use.
Maltreated children are at high risk for psychiatric, alcohol, and substance abuse problems.
Examination of genetic and environmental risk and protective factors can help identify those who are most vulnerable and help guide prevention and intervention efforts.
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