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Sensation seeking, drug use, and high contact sports

Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry
Elizabeth Richardson, Tony Cassidy


Research question: Studies report associations between sensation seeking and risky behaviour, including drug use, suggesting sensation seeking may involve a vulnerability to health compromising behaviour. Findings on sports as a protective factor against drug use are mixed. The present study was designed to examine whether young adults who participate in high contact sports have an increased likelihood to use drugs, and if the likelihood of drug use is mediated by sensation seeking.

Research methods: This quantitative, correlational study included analysis of 463 individuals’ (218 in high contact sports and 245 in non-contact sports) responses to online surveys.

Results and findings: Results show that high contact sport is associated with recreational drug use, particularly for males. Sensation seeking is only related to drug use for those engaging in high contact sport.

Implications: Sensation seeking may not be useful in predicting drug use directly but can be useful in predicting drug use in high contact sport.


high contact sports, recreational drug use, sensation seeking