COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Differences in self-reported and behavioral measures of impulsivity in recreational and dependent cocaine users

Matthias Vonmoos, Lea M Hulka, Katrin H Preller, Daniela Jenni, Claudia Schulz, Markus R Baumgartner, Boris B Quednow
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2013 November 1, 133 (1): 61-70
23806872

BACKGROUND: Dependent cocaine users consistently display increased trait impulsivity on self-report questionnaires and less consistently exhibit elevated motor impulsivity in some behavioral tasks. However, trait and behavioral impulsivity measures have rarely been investigated in recreational users. Therefore, we examined self-reported trait and motor impulsivities in recreational and dependent cocaine users to clarify the role of impulse control in cocaine addiction and non-dependent cocaine use.

METHODS: We investigated relatively pure recreational (n=68) and dependent (n=30) cocaine users, as well as psychostimulant-naïve controls (n=68), with self-report questionnaires (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale 11; Temperament and Character Inventory) and behavioral tasks (Rapid Visual Information Processing Task; Stop-Signal Task).

RESULTS: Compared with controls, recreational and dependent cocaine users displayed higher trait impulsivity and novelty seeking scores on self-report questionnaires. Trait impulsivity scores were strongly associated with an increased number of symptoms of depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and correlated significantly with long-term cocaine intake parameters. By contrast, none of the behavioral motor impulsivity measures showed significant group effects or correlated with cocaine use parameters. The correlations among the self-report measures were high, but self-reports were scarcely correlated with behavioral task measures.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that relatively pure cocaine users already display increased trait impulsivity at a recreational level of use. However, the results do not indicate any cocaine-related elevation of behavioral impulsivity in terms of motor or response inhibition. In summary, our data imply that elevated trait impulsivity is not a specific feature of dependent cocaine use.

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