Relationship between substance use and personality traits:
pilot study through cluster analysis of MMPI profiles of adolescent and young adult patients
by Berivi S., Grassi A., La Spina G., Lauriola M., Pozzi D., Russello C.
Keywords: adolescence, young adult, MMPI, personality, substances use disorder, addiction, cannabinoids, THC.
Abstract: Recent data provided by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the ESPAD@Italia study indicated that the consumption of illegal substances in the young population is constantly increasing. According to scientific evidence, it is well known that early substance use tends to interfere with adolescent brain development and maturation processes. It was also proven that psychopathological personality traits are highly correlated to concomitant psychiatric disorders in subjects who abuse psychotropic substances. Within this framework, our pilot research was done, analyzing MMPI-2 and MMPI-A profiles in patients from a specific outpatient clinic of the Sistema Sanitario Nazionale (SSN; in English: National Health System) for adolescents and young adults from 13 to 22 years of age. Our study aims to investigate the personality traits and their relationship with substance use and the diagnosis of substance use disorder. Using cluster analysis on our sample, we were able to cluster the subjects based on their shared personality traits, separating them into three different groups. Data analysis was performed using the IBM SPSS 25 statistical software. The results showed that substance use and psychopathological traits are directly proportional to the impairment of personality function. The more severe the substance use, the more severe the psychopathological symptoms. Unlike theories that support the post-morbid personality function, the results obtained by our study would support the presence of a premorbid one, in which the substance is introduced within a pre-existing psychopathological picture, consequently leading to substance addiction. In light of these results, we reiterate that for a population at such high risk, interventions must be done early to ensure a normal personality development, promote a healthier lifestyle and avoid physical and mental damages in the future.