Individual differences among cocaine users

E. Díanna Gunnarsdóttir, Regina A. Pingitore, Bonnie J. Spring*, Lukasz M. Konopka, John W. Crayton, Tom Milo, Parvez Shirazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The present study examined whether individual differences in personality could differentiate two types of cocaine users. We hypothesized that self-medicators (SM) use cocaine as a way to alleviate their dysphoric moods, whereas sensation seekers (SS), in contrast, use cocaine primarily to engender positive mood states. Eighteen male cocaine users were classified based on two dimensions of the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. SM were defined by having high harm avoidance (>17) and low novelty-seeking scores (<18), and SS by high novelty-seeking (>18) and low harm-avoidance scores (<17). It was predicted that SM would report higher depression and anxiety than would SS, and would also exhibit a brain activity pattern similar to that found in clinical depression. The results showed that SM reported higher anxiety than SS, F(1, 8) = 27.5, p < .001, but did not differ in depression. SM exhibited decreased blood flow within the left frontal lobes, F(1, 10) = 6.78, p < .05, similar to what has been observed in major depressive disorder. These findings suggest the importance of attending to individual differences in the motivation for cocaine use so that treatment can be targeted more effectively. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-652
Number of pages12
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2000


  • Cocaine user
  • Motivation for drug use
  • Self-medication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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