Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Between Alcohol and Polydrug Abusers: Implications for Treatment in the Therapeutic Community

  • Nina LacknerEmail author
  • Human-Friedrich Unterrainer
  • Aljoscha C. Neubauer


This pilot study examines personality characteristics using the Five Factor Model combined with measures of Sensation Seeking and religious/spiritual well-being in two Austrian samples of substance abusers. Sixty-three male addicts (33 polydrug dependents, 30 alcohol dependents) treated in a therapeutic community setting were tested with the Neo Personality Inventory Revised Version, the Sensation Seeking Scale, and the Multidimensional Inventory for Religious/Spiritual Well-Being. Results show significant personality differences between alcohol and polydrug abusers. Whereas higher levels of Neuroticism and lower levels of Openness to experience were found in both substance dependents groups, low levels of Conscientiousness and low levels of Agreeableness were merely shown in polydrug abusers. Furthermore, they exhibit less religious/spiritual well-being and high Sensation Seeking. Thus, the results seem to highlight a link between polydrug dependence and problematic personality structure. Findings have implications for understanding differences between various substance abusers and for novel treatment opportunities in the therapeutic community setting.


Substance use disorder Personality Big Five Polydrug Alcohol Treatment Therapeutic community 



This work was supported from the “Grüner Kreis” Society, Johnsdorf. We thank the members of staff and all participants for supporting this investigation.

Disclosures and Ethics

This paper is unique and not under consideration by any other publication and has not been published elsewhere. The authors declare that they do not have any competing interests. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Lackner
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Human-Friedrich Unterrainer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aljoscha C. Neubauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyKarl-Franzens University GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.Center for Integrative Addiction ResearchViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryMedical University GrazGrazAustria

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