The Good The Bad & The Unmanageable
People with addictive personalities live at the extremes and consequently folks tend to be drawn to us. Some seek us out due to our passionate nature, our charisma, our charm, or simply because we tend to have the best stories. If we allow them to get close they generally either love us or hate us. From a distance they envy or admire the results we achieve but its easy to overlook the cost of a great physique, rapid career advancement, or a seemingly perfect family.
In layperson terms, addictive behavior is characterized by a loss of control and repeating a set of behaviors despite negative consequences. As my friends in AA say, We found we needed more and more of what doesnt work. Addictive personalities are generally relentless. We dont accept defeat and when things dont turn out well we tend to simply redouble our efforts.
The unmanageability of our way of being is evident in many ways. We get lost in our pursuits and cant find our way back. Some of us experience profound losses. In spite of all we do and all we hide the bottom line is: were okay as long as were running but every time we stop and take stock we still feel empty.
Purported Addictive Personality Traits
While definitions of the term vary, the term addictive personality is usually used to suggest that people with certain clusters of personality traits are more likely to develop addictions. The term also suggests that people with this personality type engage in repetitive pleasurable actions and choose them over other important activities.
People who engage in these behaviors supposedly have a higher risk of developing addictions to food, sex, gambling, shopping, alcohol, and other substances.
While there is no clear consensus about what these traits are, they often include traits such as:
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Thrill-seeking or sensation-seeking
Critics emphasize that the label itself is harmful and should be avoided. Not only is the label not supported by research, but it also promotes the idea that people who develop addictions are all the same, which plays a role in stigmatizing and marginalizing people who have addictions.
Do You Have An Addictive Personality
While supporting the disease model of addiction, two doctors have taken the theory one step further by arguing all addictions are rooted in the same genetic flaw. Addicts become addicted not because of the high, but because they need their substance to satisfy their physiological hunger, to relieve the symptoms of depression, and to stave off withdrawal symptoms, explains Dr. , who, with Dr. Alan E. Nourse, developed a simple questionnaire based on their shared theory of the biological underpinning to addiction. In fact, they advocated not only detoxification when treating addicts but also nutritional support in their professional practice.
Most importantly, they devised an online test to tell you whether a person is prone to addiction. This addictive personality test takes about 20 minutes and includes five parts diet, family history, depression, alcohol use, and drug use each representing a risk factor for addictiveness. While the test has never been scientifically validated, the two sincere physicians who developed it had years of experience in helping those vulnerable to and entrapped by addiction, a subject they pursued for many years.
No matter what your score, remember this: Addiction is no one’s destiny, nor is it an incurable illness. While many stumble, many regain their footing, wiser from the experience.
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What Exactly Is An Addiction
Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, despite the psychological and physical harm its causing. An individual who cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical has a substance dependence.
Addiction is a chronic disease that can also result from taking medications. Did you know that the overuse of prescribed opioid painkillers causes 115 deaths every day in the United States?
Its time for us to wake up. Why are we prescribing opioid painkillers like its just an Advil? Those who start using drugs may also develop an addictive personality over time. When a person experiences addiction, they cannot control their relationship with the substance.
Do You Have An Addictive Personality Type Quiz
Do you have an addictive personality type? An addictive personality can be described as certain behavioral traits that can make a person predisposed to developing addictions. Do you feel as if you fall into the “addictive personality” category? Do you fear that you’ll be addicted to something serious like drugs because you tend to get addicted to many things? Take this quiz to find out and save yourself!Note: This quiz is just to ensure if you have “addictive to things” kind of traits or not. Your situations may differ from this quiz, so if you are not satisfied with the result, please, don’t be offended.
- Have you ever experimented with any drugs?
- A.& nbsp
Tried a couple, but mostly just smoking pot and mushrooms and things like that.
- C.& nbsp
I have smoked marijuana a few times, mostly in social settings and never often enough to worry.
I have liked all the drugs I’ve tried, and used most or all of them excessively since trying them. I need them to function it seems..
I haven’t ever tried any drugs.
No, I have no history of substance abuse in my family as far back as I can tell.
Neither of my parents are, but I have another close family member who is an addict.
Yes, one or both of my parents is an alcoholic or drug addict.
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Why Is The Idea Of An Addictive Personality Harmful
At first glance, the concept of an addictive personality might seem like a good tool for preventing addiction.
If we can identify those who have the highest risk, wouldnt that make it easier to help them before they develop an addiction?
But boiling the complex issue of addiction down to a personality type can be harmful for several reasons:
- It can lead people to falsely believe they arent at risk because they dont have the right personality for addiction.
- It may make people who have an addiction think that theyre unable to recover if addiction is hardwired into who they are.
- It suggests that people experiencing addiction exhibit traits that are generally considered negative, such as lying and manipulating others.
In reality, anyone can experience addiction including goal-oriented people who have a large network of friends, plenty of confidence, and a reputation of honesty.
Experts have identified a number of factors likely to increase someones risk for addiction.
Known Risk Factors For Addiction
While research has not supported the existence of an addictive personality, researchers do know that there are a number of non-personality-related factors that do increase the risk of developing an addiction. Some of these include:
- Genetics and family history: Studies have shown that addictions have a strong genetic component. Certain traits such as impulsivity and novelty seeking can also be inherited, and lead to an increased risk for addiction. However, having those traits or having a family history of addiction does not necessarily mean that you will develop an addiction.
- Environmental factors: Certain environmental variables are also tied to an increased risk for addiction including poverty, access to drugs, and trauma. Lifestyle factors such as engaging in habits that contribute to addiction may also increase your risk.
- Mental health conditions: Having another mental health condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder can also increase your risk for addiction.
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Do I Have An Addictive Personality And Should I Be Concerned
The phrase addictive personality gets tossed around quite a bit nowadays. When you think of an addictive personality, you might think of a relative who cant quit their smoking habit. You might think of your friends addiction to Candy Crush. You might think of your son, now off at college, who is getting more into the drinking and partying scene. You may here because you are concerned.
On the other hand, you might be here out of concern for yourself: Youve been drinking or using drugs for some time, and want to know what to watch for should an addiction start to develop. Can you use drugs recreationally, without being labeled or becoming an addict? What signs are indicative that you may be predisposed to addiction? If you believe you do not have an addictive personality, why are your friends telling you otherwise? How do you know if you have an addictive personality? Can you know?
These are just some of the many questions that might be running through your mind. And like many, you might be looking for concrete answers and telltale signs of an addictive personality. Unfortunately, drug addiction is complex. Personalities are also complex. This makes the answers to your questions a little more complicated, as well.
Of course, some people are more prone to substance addiction than others. And there are certain, contributing factors that make these users more susceptible. Risk factors include, but are not limited to:
Addictive Personality Treatment
Is An Addictive Personality A Real Thing
As many addiction specialists and doctors note, an addictive personality is not a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. This means it is not listed in the DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, which is the definitive source used by many mental health professionals to diagnose and treat people.
Though the origins of the term addictive personality are unclear, people have long been trying to find the root causes of addiction, Sachs says.
Addiction is defined as a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individuals life experiences.
Aside from addiction to substances like alcohol and drugs, people can become addicted to a variety of behaviors.
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The Difference Between Use Abuse And Addiction
Most people assume that everyone is happy with their lives. Just because you are, it does not mean that others are as well. Otherwise, why would society be plagued with drug or alcohol use, abuse and addiction? Laypeople often use these terms interchangeably, but there is a huge difference. Just because someone experiments with illegal drugs or consumes alcohol occasionally does not mean he or she is abusing or has become addicted. Do you see the difference? No? Dont worry, you are not alone. The standard definitions of use, abuse and addiction have often left people confused, but a health care professional who deals with these issues does know the difference.
Caution Is Not A Concern
Theres a prevalent feeling among young people that theyre invincible. This lack of self-awareness and caution can lead to addictive behaviors.
Consequences of addiction are one of the main deterrents of partaking in addictive behaviors. Without regard for those consequences, there is a much higher likelihood a person will get wrapped up in addictive patterns.
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Is It A Myth
Many addiction specialists and health professionals believe that addictive personalities are a myth.
In part, this is because addiction is a complex issue that affects all kinds of people.
Its just as possible for someone with a so-called addictive personality to avoid addiction as it is for someone without the addictive personality traits to become addicted to a substance. It all depends on their experiences and choices.
Furthermore, addiction is a brain disorder that has nothing to do with personality. Someone with a laid-back, easygoing personality has as great a risk of developing an addiction as someone with a high-strung personality.
There is no evidence that a specific personality has a higher risk of addiction than another.
Despite no scientific evidence or support for the theory of an addictive personality, understanding the various things that increase a persons risk of addiction can make it easier to avoid a substance use disorder.
- Antisocial personality disorder
Using Sex To Replace Intimacy
It might seem contradictory to suggest that sex could replace intimacy. But people who are addicted to sex tell a different story: Constantly seeking sexual arousal and gratification can actually distance you from your partners, as you lose yourself in the sensations of the sexual experience, rather than being aware of the feelings of the other person.
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How To Help Someone Who Might Be Dealing With Addiction
Addiction can be hard to talk about. If youre concerned that someone close to you needs help, here are some pointers that can help:
- Get more information about substance misuse and addiction. This can give you a better idea of what theyre going through and the type of help that might be available. For example, will treatment need to start with detoxification under medical supervision?
- Show support. This can be as simple as telling them you care for them and youre worried and want them to get help. If youre able, consider offering to go with them to see a doctor or counselor.
- Stay involved in the treatment process. Ask how theyre doing, or offer to spend time with them if theyre having a tough day. Let them know youre available if they find themselves in a rough spot.
- Avoid judgement. Theres already a lot of stigma around addiction. It can make some people hesitant to reach out for help. Reassure them that their experience with addiction doesnt make you think any less of them.
when someone doesnt want help
Try not to take it personally if your loved one doesnt want help or isnt ready to start treatment. If they dont want it, theres not much you can do to change their mind. This can be hard to accept, especially if youre very close to them.
Consider reaching out to a therapist for support. You can also drop by a Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meeting in your area. These meetings offer a chance to connect with others who have a loved one experiencing addiction.
How Do You Know If You Have An Addictive Personality
During addiction treatment, there will be many opportunities to evaluate your behavior as it contributes to chronic substance abuse. In group therapy, individuals that open up about their urges are learning how to deal with an addictive personality.
For example, individuals that are more likely to become addicts or have addictive personalities, often have the following in common:
- Have other family members that suffer from addiction.
- Were raised by parents or guardians with addictive personalities.
- Have romantic relationships with partners that like similar addictive tendencies.
- Have a history of frequent mood swings or are described as pushy.
- Engage in thrill-seeking behaviors or are easily excited.
- Often seem obsessive and/or compulsive.
- Prefers a quick-fix instead of a long-term, sustainable solution.
Although having an addictive personality depends on a persons life experience, some things can make them more prone. By keeping an eye out for red flags and motivation behind your behaviors, improvement is often possible. Addictive personality treatment while participating in addiction treatment allows for a safe environment to make positive behavioral corrections.
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How To Know If You Have An Addictive Personality
Recognizing that you have an addictive personality can help you avoid alcohol abuse and other addictions.
Keep in mind, people with certain personality traits are not guaranteed to develop an addiction. Many biological and environmental factors play a role in someones risk of addiction.
However, even if you are unaware of your genetic risks and/or you have few environmental risks, you might still be concerned about your risk of addiction. If you are worried you could develop an addiction, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
Educate yourself about addiction, learn coping skills that help you manage stress in your life, and spend time with positive, supportive people.
Many people with addiction understand how important it is to avoid addiction triggers. Even if you are not sure of your risk or you know you do not have an addiction but you are concerned, you can avoid things with a high likelihood of triggering negative coping skills.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
Even if some people have addictive personalities, it does not mean that they are doomed to watch their relationships fail. People can identify and insulate themselves from harmful, toxic personal relationships, choosing instead to focus on positive relationships in their lives that offer healthy support.
If those suffering from addiction are already in enabling or abusive relationships, learning and understanding how their partners abuse feeds into their own addictive behavior can help spur real change. While the road to recovery doesnt need to be lonely, people with addictive personalities need to be very conscientious about the relationships they form.
Addiction is fraught with paranoia and fear of the unknown, and it can be hard to identify the supportive relationships that provide a positive support system. Knowing how to identify and nurture these relationships not only aids recovery but can also help improve peoples lives in general by avoiding the toxic relationships and situations that spur on addictive, irrational, and impulsive behavior.
At the end of the day, dealing with addiction will be a difficult journey no matter who you are. However, the people you choose to surround yourself with and how you interact with them have a much greater impact on recovery than many people recognize.
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Can You Overcome An Addictive Personality
Yes. If you have a high risk of addiction, you can avoid substances that pose a risk of physical dependence, such as alcohol and drugs. Likewise, you can carefully monitor your behavior and intake.
Recognizing your specific risk is an important part of making the best choices for your situation and your health.
If you arent successful and you do develop an addiction, many addiction treatment options are available. For many, its helpful to seek treatment sooner rather than later when there is a high risk of addiction.
Substance abuse treatment options include:
- Inpatient care that offers round-the-clock medical supervision in a medical or residential setting.
- Outpatient care that provides less-intense treatment and allows patients to return home and participate in their regular lives during treatment.
- 12-step programs that offer peer support in a safe, substance-free environment.
- Relapse prevention programs that help people make healthy life choices and better manage lifes challenges.