, Volume 189, Issue 1, pp 17–25 | Cite as

Individual differences in drug abuse vulnerability: d-Amphetamine and sensation-seeking status

  • Thomas H. Kelly
  • Glenn Robbins
  • Catherine A. Martin
  • Mark T. Fillmore
  • Scott D. Lane
  • Nancy G. Harrington
  • Craig R. Rush
Original Investigation



While the personality dimensions of novelty seeking and sensation seeking are associated with drug abuse vulnerability, the mechanisms associated with this vulnerability remain obscure.


This study examined the behavioral effects of d-amphetamine in healthy volunteers scoring in the upper and lower quartiles based on age- and gender-adjusted population norms on the impulsive Sensation-Seeking Scale (SSS) of the Zuckerman–Kuhlman personality questionnaire (ZKPQ).


Participants completed 7-day outpatient studies examining the subjective, performance, and cardiovascular effects of d-amphetamine (0, 7.5, and 15 mg/70 kg, p.o.) under double-blind conditions according to a randomized block design. Performance tasks included behavioral measures of impulsivity, including attention, inhibition, and risk-taking behavior.


No differences in baseline performance or d-amphetamine effects on measures of attention, inhibition, and risk-taking behavior were observed. High impulsive sensation seekers reported greater increases on several subjective report measures associated with drug abuse potential, including visual analog scales feel drug, like drug, and high.


Healthy adults scoring in the top quartile on the population of the impulsive SSS of the ZKPQ may be vulnerable to the abuse potential of d-amphetamine.


d-amphetamine Sensation-seeking status Vulnerability Subjective effects Performance effects Abuse potential 



This research project was supported by grants P50 05312 and R01 DA 15392 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The authors wish to thank Stephanie Douglas, Cleeve Emurian, Beth Eaves, Oriaku Akuma-Kalu Njoku, and Susan Holiday for help in executing the study.


  1. Alessi SM, Greenwald M, Johanson CE (2003) The prediction of individual differences in response to d-amphetamine in healthy adults. Behav Pharmacol 14:19–32PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bardo MT, Donohew RL, Harrington NG (1996) Psychobiology of novelty seeking and drug seeking behavior. Behav Brain Res 77:23–43PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bickel WK, Marsch LA (2001) Toward a behavioral economic understanding of drug dependence: delay discounting processes. Addiction 96:73–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brennan AF, Walfish S, AuBuchon P (1986) Alcohol use and abuse in college students. I. A review of individual and personality correlates. Int J Addict 21:449–474PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Carrol EN, Zuckerman M, Vogel WH (1982) A test of the optimal level of arousal theory of sensation seeking. J Pers Soc Psychol 42:572–575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chait LD (1993) Factors influencing the reinforcing and subjective effects of d-amphetamine in humans. Behav Pharmacol 4:191–199PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cloninger CR (1987) Neurogenetic adaptive mechanisms in alcoholism. Science 236:410–416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Corr PJ, Kumari V (2000) Individual differences in mood reactions to d-amphetamine: a test of three personality factors. J Psychopharmacol 14:371–377PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Depue RA, Collins PF (1999) Neurobiology of the structure of personality: dopamine, facilitation of incentive motivation, and extraversion. Behav Brain Sci 22:491–569PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. de Wit H, Richards JB (1997) Dual determinants of drug use in humans: Reward and impulsivity. Nebr Symp Motiv 45:19–55Google Scholar
  11. de Wit H, Uhlenhuth EH, Johanson CE (1986) Individual differences in the reinforcing and subjective effects of amphetamine and diazepam. Drug Alcohol Depend 16:341–360PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Evenden JL (1999) Varieties of impulsivity. Psychopharmacology 146:348–361PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fillmore MT, Kelly TH, Martin CA (2005) Effects of d-amphetamine in human models of information processing and inhibitory control. Drug Alcohol Depend 77:151–159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Foltin RW, Fischman MW (1991) Methods for the assessment of abuse liability of psychomotor stimulants and anorectic agents in humans. Br J Addict 86:1633–1640PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fulker DW, Eysenck SB, Zuckerman M (1980) A genetic and environmental analysis of sensation seeking. J Res Pers 14:261–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goma-i-Freixanet M, Wismeijer AA, Valero S (2005) Consensual validity parameters of the Zuckerman–Kuhlman personality questionnaire: evidence from self-reports and spouse reports. J Pers Assess 84:279–286PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hawkins JD, Catalano RF, Miller JY (1992) Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychol Bull 112:64–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holt DD, Green L, Myerson J (2003) Is discounting impulsive? Evidence from temporal and probability discounting in gambling and non-gambling college students. Behav Processes 64:355–367PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huba GJ, Newcomb MD, Bentler PM (1981) Comparison of canonical correlation and interbattery factor analysis on sensation seeking and drug use domains. Appl Psychol Meas 5:291–306Google Scholar
  20. Hutchison KE, Wood MD, Swift R (1999) Personality factors moderate subjective and psychophysiological responses to d-amphetamine in humans. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 7:493–501PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johanson CE, Uhlenhuth EH (1980) Drug preference and mood in humans: d-amphetamine. Psychopharmacology 71:275–279PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johanson CE, Kilgore K, Uhlenhuth EH (1983) Assessment of dependence potential of drugs in humans using multiple indices. Psychopharmacology 81:144–149PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kelly TH, Foltin RW, Fischman MW (1991) The effects of repeated amphetamine exposure on multiple measures of human behavior. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 38:417–426PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lane SD, Cherek DR, Pietras CJ, Tcheremissine OV (2004) Alcohol effects on human risk taking. Psychopharmacology 172:68–77PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lane SD, Cherek DR, Tcheremissine OV, Lieving LM, Pietras CJ (2005a) Acute marijuana effects on human risk taking. Neuropsychopharmacology 30:800–809PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lane SD, Tcheremissine OV, Lieving LM, Nouvion S, Cherek DR (2005b) Acute effects of alprazolam on risky decision making in humans. Psychopharmacology 181:364–373PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin WR, Sloan JW, Sapira JD, Jasinski DR (1971) Physiologic, subjective, and behavioral effects of amphetamine, methamphetamine, ephedrine, phenmetrazine, and methylphenidate in man. Clin Pharmacol Ther 12:245–258PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. McLeod DR, Griffiths RR, Bigelow GE, Yingling J (1982) An automated version of the digit symbol substitution test (DSST). Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput 14:463–466Google Scholar
  29. McNair DM, Lorr M, Droppleman LF (1971) Profile of mood states (manual). Educational and Industrial Testing Services, San Diego, CAGoogle Scholar
  30. Miller JD, Lynam DR (2003) Psychopathy and the five-factor model of personality: a replication and extension. J Pers Assess 81:168–178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Patrick CJ, Curtin JJ, Tellegen A (2002) Development and validation of a brief form of the multidimensional personality questionnaire. Psychol Assess 14:150–163PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Perkins KA, Gerlach D, Broge M, Grobe JE, Wilson A (2000) Greater sensitivity to subjective effects of nicotine in nonsmokers high in sensation seeking. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 8:462–471PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Petry NM (2001) Substance abuse, pathological gambling, and impulsiveness. Drug Alcohol Depend 63:29–38PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roache JD (1991) Performance and physiological measures in abuse liability evaluation. Br J Addict 86:1595–1600PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sax KW, Strakowski SM (1998) Enhanced behavioral response to repeated d-amphetamine and personality traits in humans. Biol Psychiatry 44:1192–1195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Semple SJ, Zians J, Grant I, Patterson TL (2005) Impulsivity and methamphetamine use. J Subst Abuse Treat 29:85–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stacy AW, Newcomb MD, Bentler PM (1991) Social psychological influences on sensation seeking from adolescence to adulthood. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 17:701–708Google Scholar
  38. Wachtel SR, de Wit H (1999) Subjective and behavioral effects of repeated d-amphetamine in humans. Behav Pharmacol 10:271–281PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. White TL, Lott DC, de Wit H (2005) Personality and the subjective effects of acute amphetamine in healthy volunteers. Neuropsychopharmacology 31(5):1064–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wills TA, Vaccaro D, McNamara G (1994) Novelty seeking, risk taking, and related constructs as predictors of adolescent substance use: an application of Cloninger’s theory. J Subst Abuse 6:1–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wills TA, DuHamel K, Vaccaro D (1995) Activity and mood temperament as predictors of adolescent substance use: test of a self-regulation mediation model. J Pers Soc Psychol 68:901–916PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zermatten A, Van der Linden M, d’Acremont M, Jermann F, Bechara A (2005) Impulsivity and decision making. J Nerv Ment Dis 193:647–650PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zuckerman M (1994) Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. Cambridge University Press, MAGoogle Scholar
  44. Zuckerman M, Eysenck SB, Eysenck HJ (1978) Sensation seeking in England and America: cross-cultural, age, and sex comparisons. J Consult Clin Psychol 46:139–149PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zuckerman M, Kuhlman DM, Camac C (1988) What lies beyond E and N? Factor analyses of scales believed to measure basic dimensions of personality. J Pers Soc Psychol 54:96–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zuckerman M, Kuhlman DM, Thornquist M, Kiers H (1991) Five (or three) robust questionnaire scale factors of personality without culture. Pers Individ Differ 12:929–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zuckerman M, Kuhlman DM, Joireman J, Teta P, Kraft M (1993) A comparison of three structural models of personality: the big three, the big five, and the alternative five. J Pers Soc Psychol 65:757–768CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas H. Kelly
    • 3
  • Glenn Robbins
    • 1
  • Catherine A. Martin
    • 4
  • Mark T. Fillmore
    • 5
  • Scott D. Lane
    • 2
  • Nancy G. Harrington
    • 6
  • Craig R. Rush
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Science, College of MedicineUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas Health Science CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry and Psychology, College of Medicine and College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, College of MedicineUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  5. 5.Departments of Psychology and Behavioral Science, College of Arts and Sciences and College of MedicineUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Communication, College of Communications and Information SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations