Psychedelic symptoms of cannabis and cocaine use as a function of trait impulsivity

J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Mar;29(3):324-34. doi: 10.1177/0269881114563633. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Trait impulsivity has been linked to addiction in humans. It has been suggested that drug users with high trait impulsivity levels are more sensitive to subjective drug intoxication. This study assessed whether subjective response to drugs differs between drug users with normal or high levels of trait impulsivity. Regular drug users (N = 122) received doses of cocaine HCl, cannabis, and placebo in a three-way crossover study. Their mood, dissociative state, and psychedelic symptoms were measured with subjective rating scales (CADDS, Bowdle, POMS). Trait impulsivity was assessed with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Cannabis increased dissociation and psychedelic state, as well as fatigue, confusion, depression and anxiety, and decreased arousal, positive mood, vigor, friendliness, and elation. Cocaine increased dissociation, psychedelic state, vigor, friendliness, elation, positive mood, anxiety and arousal, while decreasing fatigue. Only a few subjective items revealed a drug × trait impulsivity interaction, suggesting that psychedelic symptoms were most intense in high impulsivity subjects. Trait impulsiveness ratings were negatively correlated with ratings of vigor (r = -.197) and positively correlated with ratings of loss of thought control (r = .237) during cannabis intoxication. It is concluded that a broad association between trait impulsivity and psychedelic subjective drug experience appears to be absent.

Keywords: Cocaine; addiction; cannabis; impulsivity; subjective intoxication.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Cannabis / chemistry
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Hallucinogens
  • Dronabinol
  • Cocaine