Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impulsivity and history of behavioral addictions are associated with drug use in adolescents.

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.


Previous literature suggests that trait impulsivity and engagement in non-drug-related behavioral addictions (e.g., Internet addiction, food addiction) are two risk factors for drug use. Here we further investigated the potential impact of having one or both of these risk factors on drug use in Los Angeles area adolescents.


High school students (N=1612; Mean age=14.1) completed self-report surveys measuring two potential risk factors (impulsivity, lifetime history of several behavioral addictions), and past 6-month use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Participants who reported never using drugs completed questionnaires assessing their susceptibility for future use.


In general, adolescents who endorsed either impulsivity alone or at least two behavioral addictions alone were more likely to have used tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana compared to individuals who had neither risk factor (OR=2.50-4.13), and individuals who endorsed both impulsivity and three or more behavioral addictions were the most likely to have used these drugs (OR=9.40-10.13). Similarly, among those who had never tried a drug, individuals with this combined set of risk factors were the most likely to be susceptible to future drug use (OR=3.37-5.04).


These results indicate that the combination of trait impulsivity and a history of behavioral addictions increases the risk for current and future drug use in adolescents, to a greater extent than either risk factor alone. It may be useful for drug prevention efforts to target impulsive adolescents who also actively engage in other non-drug-related addictive behaviors.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item