Relations between impulsive personality traits, alcohol and cannabis co-use, and negative alcohol consequences: A test of cognitive and behavioral mediators

Jack T. Waddell, Austin J. Blake, Laurie Chassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: Alcohol and cannabis co-users experience more negative alcohol consequences, but distal and mediating mechanisms of this association remain largely unstudied. Considering research suggests that individuals high in impulsivity and sensation seeking are more likely to be co-users, it is possible that co-users have more positive expectancies and become heavier drinkers, which confer risk for future negative consequences. Therefore, the current study tested prospective mediation models in which impulsive personality traits indirectly predicted negative consequences through co-use, heavier drinking, and expectancies. Methods: The current study used data from a study of familial AUD spanning 3 waves (1995–2010). Participants (N = 567) reported on impulsivity (via the Eysenck Personality Inventory and Sensation Seeking Scale) alcohol and cannabis use, alcohol expectancies, and negative consequences. Models tested the factor structure of impulsive personality traits and whether these traits predicted future negative consequences through past-year co-use and drinking/expectancies. Results: Factor analysis suggested two factors, sensation seeking and lack of premeditation. Sensation seeking was associated with future negative consequences indirectly through co-use and both drinking quantity and positive expectancies. Lack of premeditation was not associated with co-use, but indirectly predicted negative consequences through positive expectancies, above and beyond co-use. Sensation seeking directly predicted negative expectancies, but negative expectancies did not predict negative consequences. Conclusions: Impulsive personality traits in co-users, particularly sensation seeking, explained variance in future negative alcohol consequences via heavier drinking (behavior) and positive expectancies (cognition). Personalized interventions targeting a lack of premeditation, and sensation seeking in co-users, may interrupt a developmental trajectory toward problem drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108780
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Co-use
  • Expectancies
  • Negative consequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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