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Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Apr;69(4):228-37. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12231. Epub 2014 Sep 24.

Association between non-medical prescription drug use and personality traits among young Swiss men.

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Alcohol Treatment Centre, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.



To investigate the relationships between six classes of non-medical prescription drug use (NMPDU) and five personality traits.


Representative baseline data on 5777 Swiss men around 20 years old were taken from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors. NMPDU of opioid analgesics, sedatives/sleeping pills, anxiolytics, antidepressants, beta-blockers and stimulants over the previous 12 months was measured. Personality was assessed using the Brief Sensation Seeking Scale; attention deficit-hyperactivity (ADH) using the Adult Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Self-Report Scale; and aggression/hostility, anxiety/neuroticism and sociability using the Zuckerman-Kuhlmann Personality Questionnaire. Logistic regression models for each personality trait were fitted, as were seven multiple logistic regression models predicting each NMPDU adjusting for all personality traits and covariates.


Around 10.7% of participants reported NMPDU in the last 12 months, with opioid analgesics most prevalent (6.7%), then sedatives/sleeping pills (3.0%), anxiolytics (2.7%), and stimulants (1.9%). Sensation seeking (SS), ADH, aggression/hostility, and anxiety/neuroticism (but not sociability) were significantly positively associated with at least one drug class (OR varied between 1.24, 95%CI: 1.04-1.48 and 1.86, 95%CI: 1.47-2.35). Aggression/hostility, anxiety/neuroticism and ADH were significantly and positively related to almost all NMPDU. Sociability was inversely related to NMPDU of sedatives/sleeping pills and anxiolytics (OR, 0.70; 95%CI: 0.51-0.96 and OR, 0.64; 95%CI: 0.46-0.90, respectively). SS was related only to stimulant use (OR, 1.74; 95%CI: 1.14-2.65).


People with higher scores for ADH, aggression/hostility and anxiety/neuroticism are at higher risk of NMPDU. Sociability appeared to protect from NMPDU of sedatives/sleeping pills and anxiolytics.


NMPDU; Switzerland; personality trait; young men

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