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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


External organisations
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Center for Primary Health Care Research
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Family Medicine


  • Drug abuse, Half-siblings, Siblings, Twins
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-741
Number of pages7
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number6
Early online date2016 Aug 1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch