Associations among impulsivity, trauma history, and alcohol misuse within a young adult sample

Kaitlin Bountress, Zachary W. Adams, Amanda K. Gilmore, Ananda B. Amstadter, Suzanne Thomas, Carla K. Danielson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Objective Young adult alcohol misuse is associated with numerous long-term adverse outcomes. Given the link between impulsivity and alcohol use, we examined whether three impulsivity-related traits differentially predicted number of drinks per drinking day (DDD). We also examined whether these effects varied for those with different trauma histories. Method The current study (n = 254) examined motor, non-planning, and attentional impulsivity as predictors of DDD. It also examined whether impulsivity was differentially predictive of DDD across individuals in: a control group (non-trauma exposed), a trauma exposed but non-PTSD group, and a PTSD group. Results Regardless of group, more motor impulsivity was associated with more DDD. The effect of non-planning impulsivity varied according to trauma history. Specifically, more non-planning impulsivity predicted more DDD for those without PTSD. Finally, attentional impulsivity was not predictive of DDD. Conclusions Young adults with high levels of motor impulsivity, regardless of trauma history, may be a particularly high-risk group in terms of propensity for alcohol use/misuse. Additionally, high levels of non-planning impulsivity may signify those at greater risk for alcohol misuse, among those without PTSD. Motor impulsivity and non-planning impulsivity may serve as useful intervention targets in alcohol misuse prevention efforts. Implications for future research in this area are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol use
  • Impulsivity
  • PTSD
  • Trauma
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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