(Penelope Lind, John Whitfield, Nick Martin, Grant Montgomery)
Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world and the burden of mental health disorders in Australia is dominated by substance-use, affective and anxiety disorders. As well as the personal and economic costs associated with dependence, there are a wide range of downstream health effects from both drinking and smoking. Investigation of the causes of dependence is central to understanding and reducing the health consequences of alcohol and smoking because dependence, or addiction, drives the use of these substances and makes it extremely difficult to give them up.
We are collaborating with Prof. Andrew Heath from the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University Medical School, St Louis, USA. The overall aim of this research is to identify genetic variants that predispose to alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, or both in Australian subjects. This study will be carried out in a two-stage design: (i) a genome wide association scan of ~2,400 participants who have been diagnostically separated as purely alcohol dependent, nicotine dependent or comorbid alcohol and nicotine dependent and; (ii) replication in an independent Australian twin and family sample with provision for replication in independent samples recruited outside of Australia.