Impulsivity is a tendency to act without thinking. Impulsive behavior is an integral part of development and maintenance of drug addiction.

A small percentage of adults fail to mature of drugs use and go on to develop a more severe pattern of drug use, resulting in full blown substance use disorders in middle-to-older adulthood. The UPPS-P impulsive behavior scale is multidimensional scale is self-report assessment of impulsive behavior related personality traits in humans. It measures five separate, though related traits, negative urgency i.e. (the tendency to act rashly in response to negative emotions), positive urgency i.e. (the tendency to act rashly in response to positive emotions), lack of premeditation i.e. ( the tendency to act without thinking of consequences), lack of perseverance i.e. (the inability to remain focused on and complete a task), and sensation seeking i.e. (the tendency to seek new and exciting activities). The UPPS-P is widely used measure that shows robust and reliable relationships with drug use across the lifespan.

Delay discounting describes the tendency to choose an immediate smaller reward and later larger reward, drug users tend to prefer an immediate smaller reward over later larger reward. Smaller reward is the “high” while later large reward is “health”, family relationship.

Prepotent response inhibition is a behavioral measure of impulsive behavior that assesses the ability to suppress an automatic goal response to appropriately respond to a less automatic goal. Young-to-middle adult samples shows more consistent relationship between prepotent response inhibition task and drug use.

Delay discounting task focus on decisions involving affective and motivational processing that recruit regions of the reward pathway. Prepotent response inhibition task reflects decisions related to cognitive processing that recruit frontal brain regions and impulsive behavior traits are underpinned by both systems in different levels depending on the trait involved.

Impulsivity in Drug Addiction Image
Impulsivity in Drug Addiction


Impulsive personality traits in human change with age. Adolescence is strongly associated with a heightened instability in these traits, potentially influenced by neuro-developmental changes in this developmental stage.

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