Psychometric modeling of abuse and dependence symptoms across six illicit substances indicates novel dimensions of misuse. Academic Article uri icon


  • AIMS: This study explored the factor structure of DSM III-R/IV symptoms for substance abuse and dependence across six illicit substance categories in a population-based sample of males. METHOD: DSM III-R/IV drug abuse and dependence symptoms for cannabis, sedatives, stimulants, cocaine, opioids and hallucinogens from 4179 males born 1940-1970 from the population-based Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders were analyzed. Confirmatory factor analyses tested specific hypotheses regarding the latent structure of substance misuse for a comprehensive battery of 13 misuse symptoms measured across six illicit substance categories (78 items). RESULTS: Among the models fit, the latent structure of substance misuse was best represented by a combination of substance-specific factors and misuse symptom-specific factors. We found no support for a general liability factor to illicit substance misuse. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that liability to misuse illicit substances is drug class specific, with little evidence for a general liability factor. Additionally, unique dimensions capturing propensity toward specific misuse symptoms (e.g., tolerance, withdrawal) across substances were identified. While this finding requires independent replication, the possibility of symptom-specific misuse factors, present in multiple substances, raises the prospect of genetic, neurobiological and behavioral predispositions toward distinct, narrowly defined features of drug abuse and dependence.

published proceedings

  • Addict Behav

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Clark, S. L., Gillespie, N. A., Adkins, D. E., Kendler, K. S., & Neale, M. C.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Clark, Shaunna L||Gillespie, Nathan A||Adkins, Daniel E||Kendler, Kenneth S||Neale, Michael C

publication date

  • February 2016