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Personality characteristics among adults with ADHD dependent on substance use disorder, study shows

Thursday, December 13 2007 | Comments
Evidence Grade 0 What's This?
Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may have different personality characteristics depending on whether they have a current, prior, or no incidence of substance use disorder (SUD), new data show.

In contrast, adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) do not appear to have personality characteristics that differ depending on SUD incidence.

The study included 36 adults who had ADHD and 35 adults who had ASD; all participants were assessed for a current, past, or no incidence of SUD. Patients' results on Cloninger's short Temperament and Character Inventory were compared with those of normal people in the population who were matched by addiction, age, and sex.

Relative to normal adults, those with ADHD reported high novelty seeking and harm avoidance scores as well as low self-directedness and cooperativeness scores, regardless of SUD status. Also, patients with ASD had higher harm avoidance scores and lower reward dependence and self-directedness scores than did the normal groups, regardless of SUD incidence.

However, persistence scores were significantly greater (P<.005) in adults with ADHD who had a former SUD than in those with ADHD who had a current incidence or no incidence of SUD.

Meanwhile, adults with ADHD and current SUD had significantly lower self-directedness scores (P<.05) when compared with adults who had ADHD and past incidence or no incidence of SUD.

The researchers explained that the low self-directedness in patients with ADHD and current SUD "may reflect a state phenomenon of low self-esteem," while the markedly high perseverance in adults with ADHD and previous SUD "may reflect a distinct subgroup that justifies intensive treatment."

They noted that these findings cannot be directly applied to individual patient use because they are group results. Even so, they said that administering Cloninger's inventory to patients may help the patients to better understand their own personalities and identify which personality characteristics are changeable.

The researchers added that more studies will need to replicate the high persistence profile in patients with ADHD. It could enhance treatment effectiveness to know whether having such a profile before SUD treatment is associated with a high response rate, the investigators concluded. (Sizoo BB, et al. Poster NR139.)

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