Genetic variation in personality traits explains genetic overlap between borderline personality features and substance use disorders

Lauren R. Few, Julia D. Grant, Timothy J. Trull, Dixie J. Statham, Nicholas G. Martin, Michael T. Lynskey, Arpana Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims: To examine the genetic overlap between borderline personality features (BPF) and substance use disorders (SUDs) and the extent to which variation in personality traits contributes to this covariance. Design: Genetic structural equation modelling was used to partition the variance in and covariance between personality traits, BPF and SUDs into additive genetic, shared and individual-specific environmental factors. Setting: All participants were registered with the Australian Twin Registry. Participants: A total of 3127 Australian adult twins participated in the study. Measurements: Diagnoses of DSM-IV alcohol and cannabis abuse/dependence (AAD; CAD) and nicotine dependence (ND) were derived via computer-assisted telephone interview. BPF and five-factor model personality traits were derived via self-report questionnaires. Findings: Personality traits, BPF and substance use disorders were partially influenced by genetic factors with heritability estimates ranging from 0.38 (neuroticism; 95% confidence interval: 0.30-0.45) to 0.78 (CAD; 95% confidence interval: 0.67-0.86). Genetic and individual-specific environmental correlations between BPF and SUDs ranged from 0.33 to 0.56 (95% CI=0.19-0.74) and 0.19-0.32 (95% CI=0.06-0.43), respectively. Overall, there was substantial support for genetic influences that were specific to AAD, ND and CAD (30.76-68.60%). Finally, genetic variation in personality traits was responsible for 11.46% (extraversion for CAD) to 59.30% (neuroticism for AAD) of the correlation between BPF and SUDs. Conclusions: Both genetic and individual-specific environmental factors contribute to comorbidity between borderline personality features and substance use disorders. A substantial proportion of this comorbidity can be attributed to variation in normal personality traits, particularly neuroticism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2118-2127
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction
Volume109
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Keywords

  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Cannabis use disorders
  • Comorbidity
  • Five-factor model
  • Genetics
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Personality traits
  • Substance use disorders

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