The 4 Personality Types That Are Most in Danger of Addiction

October 8th 2016

Try to recall drug abuse prevention programs from your childhood, and you'll probably think of programs like D.A.R.E. or Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.

These programs had as a core element the overly simplistic advice to "just say no" and emphasized the perils of drug use. They were found to be ineffective and may have even increased drug use among teens, according to Scientific American.

But a new public anti-drug program, Preventure, targets the minority of teens who are at high risk of addiction because of their personality.

Patricia Conrod, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal, developed the program.

It identifies high-risk adolescents through a questionnaire, then brings them together in two 90-minute group workshops aimed at motivating them to understand the connection between their personality and certain emotional and behavioral reactions. It also helps them develop coping skills.

The program identifies four personality traits that put children at higher risk for drug addiction:

  1. Sensation seeking

  2. Impulsivity

  3. Anxiety sensitivity

  4. Negative thinking

Early results of the program are promising. Personality screenings "can identify 90 percent of the highest-risk children, targeting risky traits before they cause problems," The New York Times reported. Preventure has been tested in Great Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and Canada and has resulted in decreases in alcohol and drug abuse, the Times reported:

"A 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry included over 2,600 13- and 14-year-olds in 21 British schools, half of whom were randomized to the program. Overall, Preventure cut drinking in selected schools by 29 percent — even among those who didn’t attend workshops. Among the high-risk kids who did attend, binge drinking fell by 43 percent.

"Dr. Conrod says that Preventure probably affected non-participants by reducing peer pressure from high-risk students. She also suspects that the teacher training made instructors more empathetic to high-risk students, which can increase school connection, a known factor in cutting drug use."

Other studies from 2009 and 2013 revealed that Preventure intervention programs reduced related mental health issues, such as severe anxiety, depression, and impulsive behavior.

Preventure has yet to be implemented in America, but there's no doubt this country needs it. The United States has seen a steady increase in opioid abuse and overdoses over the past decade, part of a new opioid epidemic.

[h/t The New York Times]

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