Substance use in youth is a central public health concern, related to deleterious consequences at psychological, social, and cognitive/cerebral levels. Previous research has identified impulsivity and consumption motives as key factors in the emergence of excessive substance use among college students. However, most studies have focused on a specific substance and have considered this population as a unitary group, ignoring the potential heterogeneity in psychological profiles. We used a cluster analytic approach to explore the heterogeneity in a large sample (N = 2741) of substance users (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin) on impulsivity and consumption motives. We identified four clusters: The first two clusters, associated with good self-esteem, low anxiety, and moderate substance use, were respectively characterized by low impulsivity and consumption motives (Cluster 1) and by high social and enhancement motives without marked impulsivity (Cluster 2). The two other clusters were conversely related to low self-esteem and high anxiety, and characterized by high consumption motives (particularly conformity) together with elevated urgency (Cluster 3) and by globally increased impulsivity and consumption motives (Cluster 4). These two clusters were also associated with higher substance use. These results highlight the existence of distinct psychological profiles of substance users and underline the need to develop targeted prevention and intervention programs (e.g., focusing on the specific impulsivity facets and consumption motives presented by each subgroup). Based on these findings, we also suggest extending the exploration of distinct profiles of substance users by targeting other psychological variables (e.g., self-esteem).
Published by Elsevier Ltd.