Impulsivity but not sensation seeking is associated with opioid analgesic misuse risk in patients with chronic pain

Elise N. Marino, Kristen D. Rosen, Antonio Gutierrez, Maxim Eckmann, Somayaji Ramamurthy, Jennifer Sharpe Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Impulsivity and sensation seeking have been associated with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. This pilot study sought to examine whether impulsivity and sensation seeking, as measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) and Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS), were associated with opioid analgesic misuse risk in chronic, low-back pain patients prescribed opioid analgesics. Participants were 42 chronic, low-back pain patients enrolled in a larger study examining problematic opioid analgesic use. Impulsivity was assessed using the BIS, sensation seeking was measured using the SSS, and opioid analgesic misuse risk was assessed using the Current Opioid Misuse Measure (COMM). Significant bivariate associations were found between the COMM and the following predictor variables: age and the three BIS subscales: Attentional Impulsiveness, Non-planning Impulsiveness, and Motor Impulsiveness. Using a multivariate linear regression, after controlling for age, the BIS subscales accounted for 29.0% of the variance in the COMM. Attentional Impulsiveness was the only significant BIS subscale. These results suggest a potential relationship between impulsivity, but not sensation seeking, and risk for opioid analgesic misuse. Impulsivity is not a prominent trait observed in chronic pain patients; however, it may be an important risk factor for opioid analgesic misuse for a subset of individuals with chronic pain. As such, these findings suggest that additional exploration of this potential risk factor is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2154-2157
Number of pages4
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Chronic pain
  • Impulsivity
  • Opioid misuse
  • Sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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