Alcohol Use Polygenic Risk Score, Social Support, and Alcohol Use among European American and African American Adults

Alcohol consumption is impacted by a combination of genetic predispositions and environmental influences. We investigated how genome-wide polygenic risk scores for alcohol use (alc-PRS) interact with the level of social support among individuals of European American (EA) and African American (AA) descent, across various age groups ranging from emerging adulthood to middle adulthood. Our analysis was based on data obtained from 4,011 EA and 1,274 AA adults participating in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, all aged between 18 and 65 and having a history of alcohol use. Participants underwent assessments related to their genetic predispositions through saliva or blood samples. The findings revealed that while social support from friends, not family, played a moderating role in the relationship between alc-PRS and alcohol consumption among both EAs and AAs, this effect was particularly notable in middle adulthood for AAs. Specifically, individuals with lower friend support demonstrated higher alcohol consumption when genetically predisposed, whereas those with higher friend support showed a diminished influence of genetic predisposition on alcohol use. These patterns were consistent across genders but exhibited differences across developmental stages. These results underscore the significance of supportive friendships in mitigating the impact of genetic susceptibility to alcohol use among individuals of EA and AA backgrounds, emphasizing the importance of considering how the role of social support evolves over the course of life.


Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Aliev, F., Rabinowitz, J. A., Jamil, B., Chan, G., Edenberg, H. J., Francis, M., Hesselbrock, V., Kamarajan, C., Kinreich, S., Kramer, J., Lai, D., McCutcheon, V., Meyers, J., Pandey, A., Pandey, G., Plawecki, M. H., Schuckit, M., Tischfield, J., … Dick, D. M. (2023). Alcohol use polygenic risk score, social support, and alcohol use among European American and African American adults. Development and psychopathology, 1–13. Advance online publication.