Addictive Disorders are Associated with Neuroticism, Low Agreeableness, and Low Conscientiousness

Big Five personality traits and alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and gambling disorder comorbidity

In summary

In a recent study published by the American Psychological Association researchers determined that addictive disorders, like cannabis use disorder, are associated with neuroticism, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness. Neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are some of the Big Five personality traits, which was the taxonomy chosen by the researchers to examine possible personality underpinnings of addictive behavior and comorbidity. As all three of the traits were equally associated with substance use disorders they may explain the co-occurrence of addictive behaviors but these traits also may more broadly associate the propensity to develop any psychiatric disorder. Further research is needed to fully elucidate the relationship between neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness for substance use disorders as the research may lead to the development of better prevention programs. 

The idea of cannabis use disorder is interesting as the endocannabinoid system does not act upon the reward system, making the threat of addiction almost nil. Cannabis is often pedestilized by advocates for its safety profile, especially when compared to other pain medications like opioids, yet there are still some concerns for dependency. The endocannabinoid system is ever changing, especially as we learn more about it. Very little research has been done that assesses cannabis dependency although it is known that, like with most substances, frequent users gain a tolerance to cannabis.  Tolerance to cannabis can be reset with abstinence, supposedly for a 48 hour period, but again more research is needed. Tolerance, addiction, and dependence all need to be properly defined and standardized across the medical community, not just the advocates, because addiction and dependence can be frightening words that should not be thrown about.

The study is available for review or download here:

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Benjamin Caplan, MDAddictive Disorders are Associated with Neuroticism, Low Agreeableness, and Low Conscientiousness

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