Behavioural Stimulation and Sensation-Seeking among prisoners: Applications to substance use

Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930 and Higgins, Pauline (2013) Behavioural Stimulation and Sensation-Seeking among prisoners: Applications to substance use. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 36 (3-4). pp. 229-234. ISSN 0160-2527

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Background: Sensation-seeking among prisoners with substance dependence difficulties (drug and/or alcohol) was examined. This topic is under-researched in a prisoner sample.

Aims: To examine the association between sensation-seeking, other personality variables, and substance dependency among prisoners. To examine if sensation-seeking can be refined.

Methods: Adult male prisoners (n=200) completed self-report measures examining the constructs of interest.

Results: Sensation-seeking comprised extraversion and
openness to experience. It was more appropriately described as Behavioural-Stimulation-and-Sensation-Seeking (BStim-SS). BStim-SS related to drug and poly-substance dependency but not alcohol-only deendency. Increased impulsivity was related to all sustance use dependencies.

Conclusions and implications for practice: The BStim-SS presents as a valuable concept to apply to forensic populations. It captures the need for behavioural and emotional stimulation and lends support to Reward Discounting theory as valuable to apply across substance dependency. Implications for practice include:

* A need to identify a broader concept of sensation-seeking for prisoner samples:
* The recognition of differences within substance dependent samples, with impulsivity presenting differently across drug and/or alcohol dependent groups;
*Recognition that concepts regularly applied to community samples need to be examined more specifically among forensic samples to ascertain validity.

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