Association between non-medical prescription drug use and personality traits among young Swiss men

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Apr;69(4):228-37. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12231. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Aim: To investigate the relationships between six classes of non-medical prescription drug use (NMPDU) and five personality traits.

Methods: Representative baseline data on 5777 Swiss men around 20 years old were taken from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors. NMPDU of opioid analgesics, sedatives/sleeping pills, anxiolytics, antidepressants, beta-blockers and stimulants over the previous 12 months was measured. Personality was assessed using the Brief Sensation Seeking Scale; attention deficit-hyperactivity (ADH) using the Adult Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Self-Report Scale; and aggression/hostility, anxiety/neuroticism and sociability using the Zuckerman-Kuhlmann Personality Questionnaire. Logistic regression models for each personality trait were fitted, as were seven multiple logistic regression models predicting each NMPDU adjusting for all personality traits and covariates.

Results: Around 10.7% of participants reported NMPDU in the last 12 months, with opioid analgesics most prevalent (6.7%), then sedatives/sleeping pills (3.0%), anxiolytics (2.7%), and stimulants (1.9%). Sensation seeking (SS), ADH, aggression/hostility, and anxiety/neuroticism (but not sociability) were significantly positively associated with at least one drug class (OR varied between 1.24, 95%CI: 1.04-1.48 and 1.86, 95%CI: 1.47-2.35). Aggression/hostility, anxiety/neuroticism and ADH were significantly and positively related to almost all NMPDU. Sociability was inversely related to NMPDU of sedatives/sleeping pills and anxiolytics (OR, 0.70; 95%CI: 0.51-0.96 and OR, 0.64; 95%CI: 0.46-0.90, respectively). SS was related only to stimulant use (OR, 1.74; 95%CI: 1.14-2.65).

Conclusion: People with higher scores for ADH, aggression/hostility and anxiety/neuroticism are at higher risk of NMPDU. Sociability appeared to protect from NMPDU of sedatives/sleeping pills and anxiolytics.

Keywords: NMPDU; Switzerland; personality trait; young men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland
  • Young Adult