Consistent evidence of indirect effects of impulsive delay discounting and negative urgency between childhood adversity and adult substance use in two samples
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RATIONALE: Exposure to adverse life experiences (ACEs) is robustly associated with problematic alcohol and other drug use. In addition, both ACEs and substance use have been independently associated with impulsivity. OBJECTIVE: To examine whether impulsivity is implicated in the link between ACE and adult substance use in two samples. METHODS: The primary sample was a cohort of community adults (N = 1431) who completed a one-time in-person assessment. A second sample was crowdsourced using Amazon Mechanical Turk (N = 3021). All participants were assessed for ACEs using the Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire and for current alcohol and other drug use. Given its multidimensional nature, impulsivity was assessed using the UPPS-P measure of impulsive personality traits, Go/NoGo (GNG) task (in-person community adult sample only), and delay discounting (Monetary Choice Questionnaire [MCQ] in the community adults and Effective Delay-50 [ED50] in the crowdsourced sample. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the hypothesized indirect effects for the measures of impulsivity between ACEs and substance use. RESULTS: In the community adults, significant indirect effects were observed from ACEs to substance use via UPPS-Negative Urgency (β = 0.07, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [0.04, 0.10]), and the MCQ (β = 0.02 SE = .01, 95% CI [0.01, 0.03]). In the crowdsourced sample, significant indirect effects were observed from ACEs to substance use via UPPS-Negative Urgency (β = 0.05, SE = .01, 95% CI [0.04, 0.07]), UPPS-Premeditation (β = 0.04, SE = .01, 95% CI [0.02, 0.05), and the ED50 (β = 0.02, SE = .01; 95% CI [0.01, 0.03]). CONCLUSION: These findings provide consistent evidence that decrements in regulation of negative emotions and overvaluation of immediate rewards indirectly link ACE and substance use. These robust cross-sectional findings support the need for elucidating the underlying neural substrates implicated and for longitudinal evaluations.
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