The impact of impulsivity on cocaine use and retention in treatment

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2001 Dec;21(4):193-8. doi: 10.1016/s0740-5472(01)00202-1.


To determine whether impulsivity was related to severity of drug use and treatment outcome, 50 cocaine dependent subjects underwent baseline measures of severity of current cocaine use and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11). The hypothesis of the study was that there would be a significant correlation between impulsivity and cocaine use severity. As predicted, there was a significant correlation between BIS-11 total scores and self-reported average daily cocaine use as well as cocaine withdrawal symptoms. A subset of 35 patients underwent a 12-week double-blind placebo controlled trial of buspirone and group therapy. Subjects with high baseline impulsivity remained in the study a significantly shorter period than did subjects with lower baseline impulsivity. This study shows that impulsivity is a significant predictor of cocaine use and treatment retention, and suggests the need for targeting impulsivity in cocaine dependence treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Treatment Outcome