Addictive Behavior Linked to Personality and Psychopathology

Summary: A new study links substance use disorder to specific personality traits and certain psychological disorders. Researchers found those who scored high for the personality trait of neuroticism and those with depression and anxiety were at greater risk of SUD.

Source: Chinese Academy of Science

Substance use disorder (SUD) includes dependence syndromes and harmful use of illicit drugs and alcohol. SUD is often complicated by a repetitive pattern of abstinence-reinstatement and psychiatric comorbidities.

The personality traits of people with SUD may also be factors contributing to continuous use of substances.

It is plausible that SUD reflects a complex interplay between substance use, dependence features, clinical symptoms and personality traits.

The relationship between substance use and clinical symptoms can be directional in nature. For instance, drug-induced or withdrawal-induced clinical symptoms are well recognized. On the other hand, some theorists suggest that clinical patients may use substances as a form of “self-medication.”

Such a complex relationship between SUD features and symptoms and personality is best examined using network analysis. However, relatively little research has examined this relationship.

To address this issue, Dr. Raymond Chan from the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with Dr. Simon Lui at the University of Hong Kong, and Drs. J Poon and Lam Ming at the Castle Peak Hospital, recruited 391 treatment-seeking SUD patients and measured substance use, dependence features, clinical symptoms and personality traits using well-validated scales.

Network analysis was applied to construct a regularized partial correlation network and to estimate centrality indices such as strength, closeness, betweenness and expected influence. Furthermore, the relative importance of each node was estimated, with substance use and severity of dependence features as the dependent variables.

This shows a woman looking out a window
It is plausible that SUD reflects a complex interplay between substance use, dependence features, clinical symptoms and personality traits. Image is in the public domain

The results showed a highly interconnected, regularized partial-correlation network. The predictability index suggested that the regularized partial-correlation network was “self-sustaining.”

Moreover, neuroticism, a personality trait, showed highest closeness index. Depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and “general” symptoms in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale showed the highest expected influence.

Regarding the relative importance analysis results, the depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and ‘general’ symptoms significantly determined the variance of drug use and dependence severity.

Taken together, depressive and anxiety symptoms appear to be possible intervention targets to break the self-sustaining system of SUD.

Dr. Chan and his collaborators are planning to conduct follow-up assessments on this cohort and investigate the temporal stability of the regularized partial-correlation network, and to include more refined measures on reward learning to see if cognitive dysfunctions as such could also be useful intervention targets.

About this addiction and personality research news

Author: Zhang Nannan
Source: Chinese Academy of Science
Contact: Zhang Nannan – Chinese Academy of Science
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
The Interplay Between Addictive Behaviour and Psychopathology and Personality in Substance Use Disorder: a Network Analysis in Treatment-Seeking Patients with Alcohol and Drug Use” by Johannes Y. K. Poon et al. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction


Abstract

The Interplay Between Addictive Behaviour and Psychopathology and Personality in Substance Use Disorder: a Network Analysis in Treatment-Seeking Patients with Alcohol and Drug Use

Substance use disorder (SUD) is characterized by alcohol and drug use, dependence features and adverse psychosocial consequences. SUD represents an interplay between substance use, personality, impulsivity and psychopathology.

Network analysis is a powerful method to examine the direct and indirect relationship between various variables, and could understand SUD as a self-sustaining system.

We examined the network structure of addictive behaviour, personality, impulsivity and psychopathology in treatment-seeking people with SUD. This cross-sectional network analysis utilized a convenience sample of 391 treatment-seeking patients with SUD in a specialized addiction psychiatric clinic.

We measured drug and alcohol use, dependence features and psychopathology using clinician-rated scales.

Personality and impulsivity were measured using self-report instruments. LASSO network, centrality indices and network stability were estimated. We also estimated the relative importance of the network nodes in determining levels of drug and alcohol use and dependence severity.

The domain-level LASSO network of additive behaviour, psychopathological variables, traits of the Big Five Inventory (BFI) and impulsivity formed a highly connected network. BFI-neuroticism lied at the centre of the network with the highest closeness index.

Depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and ‘general’ symptoms in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale showed highest expected influence and predictability. The mean predictability of the network suggested a self-sustaining system. The three psychopathological nodes significantly determined the variance of drug use and dependence severity.

The network structure of SUD is influenced by anxiety and depressive symptoms. Clinicians should detect and intervene these symptoms to break the self-sustaining system of SUD.

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  1. This is ridiculous and ignorant. Let me guess. The solution to SUD is… other drugs. Of course. Why hasn’t anyone ever tried giving addicts anti depressants? Oh wait they have. This is all old news and its conclusions mean nothing. Harm reduction. End the drug war. Drugs have been a part of human nature for longer than recorded history and it isn’t going anywhere. Stop trying to find an answer and let people do what they want.

  2. Whats new here? Does it even need a study?? Every experienced doctor or psychotherapist knows that addiction at core is self medication in large component . It is grossly self evident when you work thoroughly with patients . Anyway good luck

  3. I think some persons conspire together to cause addictive behaviour to the benefit of the merchant. They think planning is the apotheosis of achievement and leadership the requirement for a follower(s).

  4. Our emotions are inherited, therefore, depression etc are most probably inherited unless we have had a very serious incident in life which could account for it. The need (craving) for alcohol and drugs can also be inherited, it’s an emotion. Are we looking, therefore, in the right part of the brain, should we be looking in the amygdala where emotions come from?

  5. What happens to people with neurosis, anxiety, depressions, OCD, bipolar etc. in places where there is no access to drugs and alcohol? They have to go and seek professional help and get treated with meds, new methods and treatments which is a more effective way then using drugs and alcohol. On the other hand addictive behavior is a disorder itself. We have 5 different issues here. We can reach to self medication with alcohol and drugs and other unhealthy habits. We can also have a addictive behavior. We can have mental health issues and addictive behavior . We can have mental disorders and go reach out to self medicating. We can have SUD and get mental damage from SUD.

  6. You people are so rong some peaple have persanality or deporesion or what ever is becuse rape being trauma from g err owing up i gave 5 peraanality is because ive been abused rape andi dint drink or due drus

    1. This study needs some work. First, how is it that biological siblings raised in emotionally & physically abusive households have one child that grows up to use drugs, while the other becomes married and has a successful job. No drug use not that they haven’t experimented. There was a mention of questionnaires, which in themselves can be flawed. What are the questions? At what point does the test taker decide that it’s easy to manipulate this questionnaire? To test someone that is expected to be taking a personality test can in it’s self cause less honest answers unintentionally. Foolish waste of time..

  7. It’s stunning that psychology and genetics are not taught in health education in the school systems from a young age past puberty and into young adulthood as a requirement for graduation career and marriage chooses. What?do you think of my life experience choices or is it too progressive.

  8. It’s stunning that psychology and genetics are not taught in health education in the school systems from a young age past puberty and into young adulthood as a requirement for graduation career and marriage chooses.

  9. What a load of twoddle, its down to overt mass production and then complete restriction of certain types of medication and lack of restraint in quantities or responsible dishing out as well as lack of understanding of adhd, autism and lack of acceptance of depression in times of great need on a larger scale within denial and Fraudian bs nonceyness

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