Impulsivity in childhood linked to adult substance abuse

By Staff Writer

A child’s self-control may predict their future risk of substance abuse and potential need for drug rehab, according to a new study from Duke University researchers.

The researchers found that when children have trouble controlling their behavior, they are more likely to abuse drugs as adults. Additionally, these youths have a greater risk of experiencing health problems, financial troubles or having a criminal record.

For the study, the researchers surveyed the teachers and parents of more than 1,000 children. The questions asked care providers to assess the impulse control of the children. The researchers then followed up with the participants again after 30 years.

Children who were characterized as having low tolerance for frustration, lacking persistence, experiencing difficulty sticking with tasks, acting before thinking, being unable to wait their turn and not being conscientious were much more likely to be drug abusers in adulthood.

These children were also more likely to have health problems like high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, sexually transmitted diseases, high cholesterol and gum disease. The researchers also blamed participants’ impulsivity for a number of financial problems.

The researchers said that impulsivity is a strong predictor of adult problems, and that addressing these issues in childhood may help individuals avoid needing drug rehab later in life.