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New book examines predisposition to drug addiction

A new book published by Elaine Fehrman, Advanced Practitioner, Nottinghamshire Healthcare,  with Dr Vince Egan, Associate Professor of Forensic Psychology Practice, Institute of Mental Health Centre for Family and Forensic Psychology, presents results of a research study into personality traits and drug addiction. 

The social environment is an influential factor with regards to drug addiction. However, some people living in the same environment become drug users, whilst others resist. Is this difference just random or are there key personality traits that help people to avoid drug addiction? Is it possible to evaluate the risk of drug consumption for different personality profiles? Is this risk different for different drugs?

Personality Traits and Drug Consumption:  A story told by data, analyses data from 1,885 respondents against data on the use of 18 different psychoactive substances.

In brief, the main findings are:

  • There is a significant difference in the psychological profiles of drug users and non-users. Hence, a psychological predisposition to drug addiction exists.
  • The psychological predisposition to using different drugs may be different. For example, there is significant difference between ecstasy users and heroin users.
  • Use of different drugs is correlated; the psychological predisposition to using different drugs may be different: For example, there is significant difference between ecstasy users and heroin users.

Personality was represented by the modern Five Factor model: N – Neuroticism, E – Extraversion, –Openness to experience, A – Agreeableness, C – Conscientiousness. This model was complemented by two more properties: Imp – Impulsivity, and SS – Sensation seeking.

Generally, drug users are characterised by higher N, higher O, lower A, and lower C; but there are differences between different drugs. For example, heroin users have significantly higher N, lower E, lower O, lower A, and higher Imp than ecstasy users.

High O is typical for creative people and, at the same time, for drug users. Success in education (after primary school) and beyond is correlated with high C. People, who can create plans and follow them in real life (high C) are more ‘immune’ to drug addiction. This observation hints at the possibility of mitigating training.

The project team includes two professionals in forensic psychology and psychiatry: Ms E. Fehrman from Rampton Hospital (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust), which is one of three high secure hospitals in England and Wales, and Dr V. Egan, an associate professor of forensic psychology practice in the Department of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology at the University of Nottingham. Four other authors, Prof A.N. Gorban, Prof J. Levesley, Dr E.M. Mirkes, and Dr A.K. Muhammad are affiliated with the Department of Mathematics, University of Leicester.  The project started in 2011 and the collaborative work took five years to complete.   

The book is intended for advanced undergraduates and first-year PhD students, as well as researchers and practitioners. 

The book “Personality Traits and Drug Consumption. A Story Told by Data” by Fehrman, E., Egan, V., Gorban, A.N., Levesley, J., Mirkes, E.M., Muhammad, A.K. is published recently by Springer, Cham. eBook ISBN, 978-3-030-10442-9; Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-10441-2




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