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Five-Factor Model personality profiles of drug users

Five-Factor Model personality profiles of drug users

  1. sweettea
    Essentially the journal article “Five-Factor Model personality profiles of drug users” attempts to quantify and explore the relationship between personality and drug use. Certain personality traits are considered to put an individual at risk for drug use, and alternatively, certain psychoactive substances affect an individual’s personality profile. This study compares the personality profile of tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin users and non-users by means of the wide spectrum Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality.

    The sample was drawn from a socio-economically diverse community. Personality traits were assessed with the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, or NEO-PI-R, and substance use was assessed with an interview. For readers not familiar with the NEO-PI-R personality model, the model covers the five major traits that define human personality across cultures:



    Neuroticism, N – the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as being tense, moody, or anxious.
    Extraversion, E – the tendency to be sociable, encompasses more specific traits such as talkative, energetic, and assertive.
    Openness to Experiences, O – the tendency to be imaginative, creative, unconventional, emotionally and artistically sensitive, includes traits like having wide interests, and being insightful.
    Agreeableness, A – the dimension of interpersonal relations, characterized by trust, modesty, kindness and being affectionate.
    Conscientiousness, C – a tendency to be organized, strong-willed, persistent and reliable.
    Objectives were to (1) fill in gaps in the literature with respect to personality traits and risk factors for drug use; and (2) provide information to allow for the tailoring of treatment programs.

    The study is not randomized and has all the limitations that retrospective studies come with. There are limitations to consider when interpreting the results. The sample is not representative of the US population, as it was drawn from a diverse socio-economic probability sample. Misclassification is certain to occur with the categories of never, former, and current-users. That is, some individuals are not going to self-disclose illicit drug use, full stop. Typically, studies on drug use are conducted in adolescents and young adults, groups who are at life-stages associated with greater drug use. This study looks at an older cohort, which the researchers have presumed to be past the experimentation age. Bias using older cohorts may have been introduced because this cohort only includes the survivors among those who started drug use early in life.

    The authors conclude, from their study, high levels of negative affect and impulse traits and further emphasizes the connection between drug use and low Conscientiousness. Particularly interesting, is the profile of cocaine/heroin users which resembles the pattern for current smokers, only more extreme. Caution should be taken when interpreting this relationship since the sample size of cocaine/heroin users is quite small (n = 9).

    The study is unable to support how personality assessment can be used to tailor treatment programs and the authors recommend further research.

    A comment is made, but no possible solutions provided, to the issue of how drug use might cause change in personality characteristics that are being used to profile drug user. In other words, because the study can not be randomized, it is impossible to definitively separate pre- and post- drug use and personality affects.