Considerable evidence suggests that sensitivity to the stimulant effects of alcohol and other drugs is a risk marker for heavy or problematic use of those substances. A separate body of research implicates negative emotionality. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the independent and interactive effects of the stimulant response, assessed with an amphetamine challenge, and negative emotionality on alcohol and drug use.
Healthy young women and men completed the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) and an inventory assessing alcohol and other drug use. Subsequently, the effects of 10-mg d-amphetamine were determined in the laboratory using the Stimulant scale of the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale. Hierarchical regression analyses evaluated the effects of amphetamine response and the MPQ factor Negative Emotionality on measures of substance use.
The amphetamine response moderated relationships between negative emotionality and alcohol use: in combination with a robust amphetamine response (i.e., enhanced stimulant effects as compared with baseline), negative emotionality predicted greater alcohol consumption, more episodes of binge drinking, and more frequent intoxication in regression models. A strong stimulant response independently predicted having used an illicit drug, and there was a trend for it to predict having used alcohol. Negative emotionality alone was not associated with any measure of alcohol or drug use.
Consistent with the idea that emotion-based behavioral dysregulation promotes reward seeking, a high level of negative emotionality was associated with maladaptive alcohol use when it co-occurred with sensitivity to drug-based reward. The findings contribute to our understanding of how differences in personality may interact with those in drug response to affect alcohol use.