Drinking motives as mediators of the impulsivity-substance use relation: Pathways for negative urgency, lack of premeditation, and sensation seeking

Zachary W. Adams, Alison J. Kaiser, Donald R. Lynam, Richard J. Charnigo, Richard Milich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations

Abstract

Trait impulsivity is a reliable, robust predictor of risky, problematic alcohol use. Mounting evidence supports a multidimensional model of impulsivity, whereby several distinct traits serve as personality pathways to rash action. Different impulsivity-related traits may predispose individuals to drink for different reasons (e.g., to enhance pleasure, to cope with distress) and these different motives may, in turn, influence drinking behavior. Previous findings support such a mediational model for two well-studied traits: sensation seeking and lack of premeditation. This study addresses other impulsivity-related traits, including negative urgency. College students (N = 432) completed questionnaires assessing personality, drinking motives, and multiple indicators of problematic drinking. Negative urgency, sensation seeking, and lack of premeditation were all significantly related to problematic drinking. When drinking motives were included in the model, direct effects for sensation seeking and lack of premeditation remained significant, and indirect effects of sensation seeking and lack of premeditation on problematic drinking were observed through enhancement motives. A distinct pathway was observed for negative urgency. Negative urgency bore a significant total effect on problematic drinking through both coping and enhancement motives. This study highlights unique motivational pathways through which different impulsive traits may operate, suggesting that interventions aimed at preventing or reducing problematic drinking should be tailored to individuals' personalities. For instance, individuals high in negative urgency may benefit from learning healthier strategies for coping with distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-855
Number of pages8
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Volume37
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

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Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Drinking motives
  • Impulsivity
  • Urgency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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