Clinical implications of tolerance to alcohol in nondependent young drinkers

Marc A. Schuckit, Tom L. Smith, Victor Hesselbrock, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Laura Bierut, Howard Edenberg, John Kramer, Elizabeth Longacre, Tsutomu Fukukura, Jelger Kalmijn, George P. Danko, Ryan Trim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Background: Ten percent of teenagers and young adults with no alcohol diagnosis and a third of those with alcohol abuse report tolerance to alcohol. However, relatively few data are available on the clinical implications of tolerance in nondependent men and women. Methods: Data were gathered from 649 18-to-22-year-old drinking offspring from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) families. The prevalence and clinical correlates of tolerance were evaluated across subjects with no DSM-IV alcohol abuse and no tolerance, similar individuals with tolerance, subjects with alcohol abuse but no tolerance, and individuals with both alcohol abuse and tolerance. Results: Tolerance was associated with an almost doubling of the number of drinks needed to feel alcohol's effects, and correlated with additional alcohol-related problems. In regression analyses, the most consistent and robust correlates of tolerance were the maximum number of drinks and alcohol problems, and tolerance remained informative after covarying for drinking quantity. Conclusions: Tolerance to alcohol may be a useful concept regarding nondependent drinkers that is not just a proxy for alcohol quantity but also reflects the presence of additional problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Alcohol
  • Clinical implications
  • Tolerance
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

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    Schuckit, M. A., Smith, T. L., Hesselbrock, V., Bucholz, K. K., Bierut, L., Edenberg, H., Kramer, J., Longacre, E., Fukukura, T., Kalmijn, J., Danko, G. P., & Trim, R. (2008). Clinical implications of tolerance to alcohol in nondependent young drinkers. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 34(2), 133-149.