Hormonal and behavioral homeostasis in boys at risk for substance abuse

Michael A. Dawes, Lorah D. Dorn, Howard B. Moss, Jeffrey K. Yao, Levent Kirisci, Robert T. Ammerman, Ralph E. Tarter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study modeled the influences of cortisol reactivity, androgens, age-corrected pubertal status, parental personality, family and peer dysfunction on behavioral self-regulation (BSR), in boys at high (HAR) and low average risk (LAR) for substance abuse. Differences between risk groups in cortisol and androgen concentrations, and cortisol reactivity were also examined. Subjects were 10- through 12-year-old sons of substance abusing fathers (HAR; n=150) and normal controls (LAR; n=147). A multidimensional construct of BSR was developed which utilized multiple measures and multiple informants. Boys reported on family dysfunction and deviant behavior among their peers. Parents reported on their propensity to physically abuse their sons, and their own number of DSM-III-R Antisocial Personality Disorder symptoms. Endocrine measures included plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and salivary cortisol. HAR boys, compared to LAR boys, had lower mean concentrations for testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, salivary cortisol prior to evoked related potential testing, and lower cortisol reactivity. The number of maternal Antisocial Personality Disorder symptoms, parental potential for physical abuse, degree of family dysfunction, and peer delinquency were significantly associated with BSR. Parental aggression antisocial personality symptoms and parental physical abuse potential are likely to influence sons' behavioral dysregulation and homeostatic stress reactivity. These key components of liability are posited to increase the likelihood of developing suprathreshold Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder (PSUD). Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999


  • Family and peer dysfunction
  • Hormonal and behavioral homeostasis
  • Personality
  • Substance abuse liability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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