Which came first: Cannabis use or deficits in impulse control?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Impulse control deficits are often found to co-occur with substance use disorders (SUDs). On the one hand, it is well known that chronic intake of drugs of abuse remodels the brain with significant consequences for a range of cognitive behaviors. On the other hand, individual variation in impulse control may contribute to differences in susceptibility to SUDs. Both of these relationships have been described, thus leading to a “chicken or the egg” debate which remains to be fully resolved. Does impulsivity precede drug use or does it manifest as a function of problematic drug usage? The link between impulsivity and SUDs has been most strongly established for cocaine and alcohol use disorders using both preclinical models and clinical data. Much less is known about the potential link between impulsivity and cannabis use disorder (CUD) or the directionality of this relationship. The initiation of cannabis use occurs most often during adolescence prior to the brain's maturation, which is recognized as a critical period of development. The long-term effects of chronic cannabis use on the brain and behavior have started to be explored. In this review we will summarize these observations, especially as they pertain to the relationship between impulsivity and CUD, from both a psychological and biological perspective. We will discuss impulsivity as a multi-dimensional construct and attempt to reconcile the results obtained across modalities. Finally, we will discuss possible avenues for future research with emerging longitudinal data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110066
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Mar 2 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [ DA041462 ] to SS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Addiction
  • Cannabis
  • Impulsivity


Dive into the research topics of 'Which came first: Cannabis use or deficits in impulse control?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this