Neurocognitive and personality assessment of adolescent substance abusers: a multidimensional approach

Philip D. Harvey, John L. Stokes, Joel Lord, David L. Pogge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Recent studies have suggested that certain aspects of cognitive impairment are present in adolescent substance abusers, and that these impairments vary with the type of substance abused. Cognitive impulsivity has been reported to be associated with abuse of multiple substances and other aspects of delinquent behavior. In addition, personality characteristics measured with psychological tests, including impulsivity, identify both adult and adolescent substance abusers. In the present study, the overlap between personality and neurocognitive measures was examined in a sample of 182 adolescent psychiatric inpatients, half of whom were substance abusers and the others matched comparison participants with no history of substance abuse. It was found that both cognitive tests and observer-rated measures (i.e., the Psychopathy Checklist) sensitive to impulsivity were specifically related to abuse of multiple substances. Aspects of inattention and depression, but not measures of psychopathic tendencies, were correlated with single-substance alcohol abuse. These data suggest that adolescent patients who abuse alcohol alone versus those who abuse alcohol in addition to other drugs are considerably different and that both personality characteristics and neurocognitive functions may contribute to the differences between them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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