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Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Oct 15;68(8):770-3. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.06.015. Epub 2010 Aug 1.

Drug addiction endophenotypes: impulsive versus sensation-seeking personality traits.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ke220@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Genetic factors have been implicated in the development of substance abuse disorders, but the role of pre-existing vulnerability in addiction is still poorly understood. Personality traits of impulsivity and sensation-seeking are highly prevalent in chronic drug users and have been linked with an increased risk for substance abuse. However, it has not been clear whether these personality traits are a cause or an effect of stimulant drug dependence.

METHOD:

We compared self-reported levels of impulsivity and sensation-seeking between 30 sibling pairs of stimulant-dependent individuals and their biological brothers/sisters who did not have a significant drug-taking history and 30 unrelated, nondrug-taking control volunteers.

RESULTS:

Siblings of chronic stimulant users reported significantly higher levels of trait-impulsivity than control volunteers but did not differ from control volunteers with regard to sensation-seeking traits. Stimulant-dependent individuals reported significantly higher levels of impulsivity and sensation-seeking compared with both their siblings and control volunteers.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data indicate that impulsivity is a behavioral endophenotype mediating risk for stimulant dependence that may be exacerbated by chronic drug exposure, whereas abnormal sensation-seeking is more likely to be an effect of stimulant drug abuse.

Copyright © 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20678754
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3485555
Free PMC Article
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