Introduction to the special issue on "Anxiety Sensitivity and Addictive Behaviors"

Sherry H. Stewart, Matt G. Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is a cognitive, individual difference variable characterized by a fear of arousal-related bodily sensations due to beliefs that such sensations are signs of impending catastrophic physical, psychological, or social outcomes. AS has been linked to increased risk for the development and maintenance of panic attacks and anxiety disorders, and more recently has been related to risk for other psychopathological conditions including those related to substance misuse. This article introduces a special issue of Addictive Behaviors focusing on cutting edge findings on the relations of AS to substance use and abuse. We set the stage for the following series of eight novel empirical papers by providing a review of background on the ways in which AS has been hypothetically linked to increased risk for the development of substance abuse and addiction. We also consider whether AS might be differentially related to risk for abuse of specific classes of drugs with different pharmacological effects (e.g., depressants vs. stimulants). Finally, we consider how AS might be related to substance use disorder maintenance or relapse risk through its putative effects in increasing drug withdrawal severity and in lowering tolerance for withdrawal symptoms. Our overriding goal in writing this Introduction was to provide an organizational template for integrating the featured studies and to recommend promising directions for future work into the association of AS and substance use-related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-785
Number of pages11
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this manuscript and special issue were supported in part from research grants from the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation awarded to the first author, and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (R-29, AA09871) awarded to the second author. The first author is supported through a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Investigator Award.


  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Depressants
  • Drug abuse
  • Drug addiction
  • Risk factors
  • Stimulants


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