Family history and other characteristics of heroin-dependent Jewish males in Israel: Results of a case-control study

Yehuda Neumark*, Yechiel Friedlander, Rachel Bar-Hamburger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Various studies support the concept of an inherited vulnerability to drug dependency, while emphasizing the importance of social and environmental influences and their interactions. Objectives: To compare the characteristics of heroin-dependent Jewish men in Israel with those of the general population, focusing on the nature of family history of substance abuse. Method: This case-control study compares 64 heroin-dependent Jewish male residents of Jerusalem with a community sample of 131 randomly selected Jerusalem residents with no drug use disorder. Univariate and multivariate models were employed to appraise the independent associations between heroin dependence and exposure variables such as family history of substance misuse and exposure to legal psychoactive substances. Results: The case group is characterized by heavy tobacco and alcohol involvement. Nearly 70% of the cases report an alcohol and/or drug problem in at least one first-degree relative compared with 10% of controls (odds ratio 14.5, adjusted for sociodemographic and other potential confounders). Cases with a positive family history have, on average, higher alcohol consumption levels and higher heroin-use severity scores, as compared with cases with no such history. Conclusions: Familial aggregation of drug and alcohol problems, along with smoking at a young age, is the strongest predictor of heroin dependence in this population. Better understanding of the components underlying this familial aggregation can lead to improved prevention and treatment strategies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)766-771
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2002


  • Drugs
  • Epidemiology
  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Heroin


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