Associations of personality and substance use

  • Lauren Vomberg University of Lethbridge
  • Rebecca Hudson Breen* University of Lethbridge


Substance use, for the purpose of this study, has been defined as the non-medical use of substances (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines-type stimulants, inhalants, sedatives or sleeping pills, hallucinogens, and opioids). Although there are several personality theories as to why individuals engage in substance use, there has yet to be a study conducted looking at correlations between substance use and the HEXACO model of personality. Previous research has indicated associations between substance use and personality, such as cocaine use being correlated with Extraversion and Openness to Experiences. It has also been shown that an individuals’ confidence in recovery rate correlated with higher scores in Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Conscientiousness. However, these previous studies used inconsistent and outdated personality measurements and definitions of substance use. Our study examines whether or not certain personality traits are associated with substance of choice. We used various social media outlets to administer the HEXACO Personality Inventory, a modified version of ASSIST, and the PHQ-9 on a sample of 291 individuals. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 64 and lived across North America. Along with correlating personality traits and substances, this study looked to measure personality traits in relation to seeking treatment. Results indicated statistical significance between individuals who used the same substances with Honesty/Humility and Conscientiousness, and no statistically significant correlations with treatment and personality traits. Although research in this field is not relatively new, it is important to replicate studies with up-to-date measurements in order to gain the most accurate measurement of possible correlations.

* Indicates faculty mentor

Presentation Abstracts