Geographical proximity and the transmission of drug abuse among siblings: Evaluating a contagion model in a Swedish National Sample

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AimsCan drug abuse (DA) be transmitted psychologically between adult siblings consistent with a social contagion model?MethodsWe followed Swedish sibling pairs born in 1932-1990 until one of them, sibling1 (S1), had a first DA registration. We then examined, using Cox regression, the hazard rate for a first registration for DA in sibling2 (S2) within 3 years of a first DA registration in S1 as a function of their geographical proximity. We examined 153 294 informative pairs. To control for familial confounding, we repeated these analyses in sibships containing multiple pairs, comparing risk in different siblings with their proximity to S1. DA was recorded in medical, criminal or pharmacy registries.ResultsThe best-fit model predicted risk for DA in S2 as a function of the log of kilometres between S1 and S2 with parameter estimates (±95% confidence intervals) of 0.94 (0.92; 0.95). Prediction of DA included effects of cohabitation and an interaction of proximity and time since S1 registration with stronger effects of proximity early in the follow-up period. Proximity effects were stronger for smaller S1-S2 age differences and for same-v. opposite-sex pairs. Sibship analyses confirmed sibling-pair results.ConclusionsConsistent with a social contagion model, the probability of transmission of a first registration for DA in sibling pairs is related to their geographical proximity and similarity in age and sex. Such effects for DA are time-dependent and include cohabitation effects. These results illustrate the complexity of the familial aggregation of DA and support efforts to reduce their contagious spread within families in adulthood.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Center for Primary Health Care Research
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Shimane University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Beroendelära


Antal sidor9
TidskriftEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Tidigt onlinedatum2019
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa