• addiction;
  • anxiety disorder;
  • impulsivity;
  • personality disorder;
  • reward-sensitivity;
  • sensation-seeking;
  • substance misuse;
  • treatment matching


The interplay between stable personality characteristics and environmental factors is emphasised in most contemporary approaches to individual differences. This interaction appears to be important in understanding the development of substance use and misuse. Impulsivity related personality traits such as sensation-seeking, novelty seeking, reward-sensitivity and behavioural disinhibition, are strongly linked to adolescent and adult substance use and misuse. The role of anxiety-related traits, in the development of substance misuse is less clear. Nonetheless, anxiety disorders are very common amongst adult substance misusers and almost certainly play a critical role in the maintenance of a substance use disorder and influence treatment effectiveness. The data suggest that personality influences treatment outcomes and yet these individual differences are generally not addressed in treatment. We argue in this review that interventions which are matched to these relevant personality traits may improve treatment outcomes for substance misusers.