How To Help Someone With A High Risk For Addiction
At Gateway, we offer various forms of evidence-based treatments to help individuals moderate addictive responses to drugs, alcohol and other substances. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team of professionals has been treating substance abuse disorders for over 50 years, and utilizes a continuum of care to track an individuals progress over time.
Contact Gateway today to receive care if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.
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.
Resisting Behaviors Of An Addictive Personality
Communication is a crucial aspect of coping with a friend or loved ones susceptibility to addiction. Addiction is a lifelong battle for many that no one should have to fight alone. This arduous fight may seem winnable when friends, family members, and significant others know what is needed.
Support from close relatives and friends can assist the person in staying clean. Perseverance is also key in order to help a person overcome difficult and sad moments. Recognizing these moments as temporary allows them to continue concentrating on what it takes to maintain a healthy, addiction-free lifestyle.
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Characteristics Of An Addictive Personality
The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study with the aim of finding the shared characteristics of all types of addict. They were unable to discover one set of characteristics that fit everyone, but they did find many frequently shared similarities between the different addicts. These similarities were:
* A high sense of stress in their lives* Low self-esteem* A feeling of alienation from others* They valued nonconformity* They tended to act impulsively* They found it hard to delay gratification* Prone to attention seeking behavior* Highly insecure in relationships* Usually suffer from depression or anxiety* Antisocial tendencies* High tolerance for deviance
How To Use Your Addictive Personality For Good
Posted by Sarah Fader on July 6, 2017
Some of us have addictive personalities and they can feel overwhelming. When you think of an addictive personality, you tend to think of an addict. Alcoholics and drug addicts certainly have addictive personalities.
I am not an addict, but I have traits of one in some ways. There is an element of my personality that is addictive when it comes to buying things and compulsively texting people. I can feel the dopamine being released when I do things like spend money on Amazon or let out a bunch of emotions via text message. I act before I think sometimes, and it can be overwhelming to people just like substance abuse is all encompassing to the people dealing with it.
Addictive personalities are riddled with stigma. We are told that addicts are destructive and ruin the lives of people around them. But what if I told you that there is a positive side to having an addictive personality? Well, there is and Im going to show you how to use your addictive personality for good.
Having an addictive personality means that you are fixated on a substance or activity because it fulfills you. Heres the trick to turning that attribute into something positive: find something that makes you feel good and adds value to your life. Once youve figured out what that productive and positive thing is, put your passionate energy into doing that very thing and doing it well.
Heres what I challenge you to do:
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Dont Believe Quitting Is Too Difficult
If you have an addictive personality, you may believe that quitting everything addictive is just too hard. Maybe you went from sex to overeating, overeating to drugs, and on and on. You may think that life without excess is too boring and too normal. This is denial.
Do: Get help with your addiction. Even people with long-term addictions can get help. After you find that it is possible, you may grieve the lost years once you recover.
You Constantly Feel Like You Need More
Someone who has addiction personality disorder might feel like they either cant get enough of whatever they are addicted to or constantly feel like they need more and more of it. They might even know that what they are doing is bad for them, yet they still feel the need to constantly do it. They might even have harm to themselves or others as a result of their constant need for whatever their fix is.
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What Does It Mean To Have An Addictive Personality
Addictive personality factors can include:
- Difficulty with delayed gratification: People with addictive personalities are usually focused on the short-term and have trouble planning for the future. They may see drugs or alcohol as a quick fix to cover up negative emotions.
- Antisocial personality: Those who have difficulty with social relationships may turn to addictive substances or activities to ease their loneliness. Someone with an antisocial personality could start to abuse substances for similar reasons.
- Depression and apathy: Individuals who experience depression may turn to addictions as a way to cover up painful emotions.
- Insecurity: Some people may use compulsive, addictive behaviors to cover up their insecurities or fear of failure.
- Compulsive behavior: People who engage in risky behaviors over and over again and are unable to stop may have a propensity toward addiction. These people may take an all-or-nothing approach to life, and are more likely to believe theyre either perfect or a failure.
- Low distress tolerance: A lack of coping skills or stress management can make someone more likely to turn to alcohol, drugs or other addictions.
- Substituting vices: Individuals with addictive personalities may switch from one addiction to another to fulfill an underlying need.
Healthy Habits: How To Make Your Addictive Personality Work For You
We know that addiction is a disease. Treating it isnt as simple as saying, No more for me, thanks. Drug and alcohol abuse changes your prefrontal cortex, which makes it difficult for you to make rational decisions, even basic ones like No, I dont want to use today.
We also know the pitfalls, perils, and problems associated with addiction. Maybe you, like many others, have lost out on friends, missed opportunities, experiences, and money chasing a bit of relief from pain. While addiction can be challenging to deal with, what if there was such a thing as a positive addiction?
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The Genetics Of An Addictive Personality
Much research is being done on the medical diagnosis of addictive personality as personalities are multifaceted and complicated. Research has discovered a link between genetics and someones ability to have an addictive personality. Those born to parents who have been addicted to a substance or exhibited a behavioral addiction are more likely to exhibit addictive personalities themselves.
Additionally, individuals born to parents who have suffered anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder can be predisposed to having an addictive personality. Genetics are not the sole indicator of addictive personalities however, they can be a great influence on someones personality traits.
The Addictive Personality Isn’t What You Think It Is
In her new book Maia Szalavitz recalls her behavior as a child in school and at home. Anxious, bright and slightly obsessive, she didn’t seem to fit the stereotype of the addictive personality. Nevertheless, in college she would become addicted to heroin and cocaine, forcing her to reexamine her assumptions about addiction and its treatment. The following is an excerpt from Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,
Although addiction was originally framed by both Alcoholics Anonymous and psychiatry as a form of antisocial personality or character disorder, research did not confirm this idea. Despite decades of attempts, no single addictive personality common to everyone with addictions has ever been found. If you have come to believe that you yourself or an addicted loved one, by nature of having addiction, has a defective or selfish personality, you have been misled. As George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told me, What were finding is that the addictive personality, if you will, is multifaceted, says Koob. It doesnt really exist as an entity of its own.
It seems that the same regions that gave me my intense curiosity, obsessive focus, and ability to learn and memorize quickly also made me vulnerable to discovering potential bad habits and then rapidly getting locked into them.
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Getting Help To Overcome Addiction
Fighting through the hard times of addiction includes getting high-quality substance abuse treatment. Today, evidence proves that addiction is a physiological disease that affects the brains wiring and chemistry. This means that psychological and psychiatric care are just as important.
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction, contact Ashley Addiction Treatment at to get the help you need today.
So What Type Of People Are More Prone To These Disorders
Scientific evidence isnt conclusive about it, so theres no addictive personality diagnosis or list of symptoms. There isnt a particular type of person that may be more likely to develop symptoms of addiction or substance use disorder.
Instead, what causes addiction disorders is likely a combination of factors that include:
- early life experiences
- emotional intelligence
- biology and genes
Still, people with similar backgrounds may have different experiences, so even going through difficult or challenging times doesnt mean youll end up experiencing a mental health condition.
In terms of addiction, it may be useful to think of it as a pattern of behavioral modifications that have helped some people to survive difficult situations, says Menemsha Milnor, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist in New York City.
The best way to understand addiction is to see it as a coping mechanism that helps people recover from immense stress or trauma, she explains.
Substances, for example, can be a way to self-medicate, helping someone live with the uncomfortable, often painful, physiological symptoms of trauma. Addictive habits can temporarily soothe a dysregulated nervous system, allowing people to function in society, adds Milnor.
What you feel is valid and real, even if it doesnt come with the formal label of addiction or a substance use disorder.
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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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Why Do Some People Develop Addictions
There is no single factor that can predict whether one person will develop addiction and not another. Instead, a combination of factors raises a persons risk. These factors are many and varied and include:
- Epigenetics: Epigenetics is the study of how environment affects genes. Scientists estimate that epigenetics may determine 4060% of a persons addiction risk.
- Social environment: Living with caregivers who use drugs or have favorable attitudes towards substance misuse is associated with similar attitudes and behavior among teens. Similarly, pressure from peers can influence adolescents to try addictive substances.
- Early use: Early use of addictive substances can influence brain development, making it more likely a person will become addicted to substances during their lifetime.
- Prescription drug use: Some people develop addictions to substances after taking them for medical reasons. For example, doctors can prescribe opioids for pain relief. These are highly addictive substances, and even after a short time, the body can become dependent on them. Around 1.6 million people in the United States have opioid use disorder.
- Stress or trauma:Psychological trauma is a mental wound that can occur as a result of any severely stressful event. This could include childhood neglect or abuse, bullying, assault, crime, or humiliation. Any stressful or traumatic event might cause someone to use addiction to try to cope with the memories or feelings associated with it.
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What Does An Addictive Personality Look Like
An addictive personality would exhibit itself as a person who has a very hard time not getting stuck on things that give them pleasure someone who typically latches onto specific people, ideas, behaviors, pursuits, or even substances. For example, most people will go into a clothing store and purchase the one or two items they need or have long wanted, and no more. A person with an addictive personality will compulsively purchase even when they have no real need, and even when they lack the funds to support their habit. The average person can go to a restaurant or party and have one drink, and then not touch alcohol for a month or more. One with an addictive personality will return for another 5 glasses because they so enjoy the feeling the first one gave them. Someone with an addictive personality will compulsively watch TV shows they love, browse the web, eat, exercise, experiment with drugs, or buy lottery tickets in short, continuously fixate on and pursue whatever it is that gives them pleasure. They lack the ability to control or stop their actions.
What Treatment Options Are Available
Addictive personality treatment requires that a person receive treatment for a diagnosed mental illness and a substance use disorder. Clinicians now receive extensive training in the treatment of both disorders. This type of treatment is called dual diagnosis because the therapist treats a mental illness and a substance use disorder at the same time.
Treatment facilities offer substance and addictive personality treatment, and it begins with detoxification. During the detoxification process, the medical staff administers medications that make the withdrawal process easier for the member to tolerate. Then, it is less likely that the member will go in search of his drug of choice before he completes his treatment program.
After detoxification, the member isnt finished with the rehabilitation process. The member has social, psychological, and behavioral issues to work out, and this must be done in one of the following types of treatment programs:
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Is An Addictive Personality The Same As Having Ocd
No. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a formal mental health diagnosis that involves symptoms like obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are unwanted, distressing, and persistent thoughts you feel you cannot control. Compulsions are rituals you engage in to decrease the distress caused by obsessions.
Its possible to have both a diagnosis of OCD and behavioral addictions.
Researchers cant pinpoint the exact cause of addictive or compulsive behaviors, as everyone is different. Its probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some of these may include:
- family history of similar behaviors
- lack of interpersonal support
- low distress tolerance
- unresolved trauma
Addiction and genetic vulnerability to addiction are complex and nuanced, says Dr. Nicole McGuffin, PsyD, a therapist in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
I like to exchange the term addictive personality for heartbreak, she says. In this guise, we can meet ourselves or others with empathy, compassion, and understanding.
In my worldview, addiction may be about heartbreak, disconnection from self and others, perhaps not knowing how to attune to your needs, guilt, pressuring yourself, not trusting, or self-medicating that heartbreak. It may also be about developmental trauma, explains McGuffin.
Impact Of The Addictive Personality Concept
Critics of the term addictive personality suggest that the concept of an addictive personality is a harmful myth that contributes to mental health stigma.
The problem is that it takes a very complex, multifaceted issue and reduces it down to a simplistic explanation. Critics of the idea of the addictive personality also suggest that it:
- Leads people to underestimate their risk: Believing that there is an addictive personality type may cause people to believe that they are not at risk for developing an addiction. People mistakenly assume that because they don’t have “addictive traits,” that they aren’t at risk.
- Contributes to negative stereotypes about people with addictions: The term can also stigmatize people with addiction and can cause people to think that all people with addictions possess a certain set of negative traits.
- Reduces motivation to change: If people believe they have an addictive personality, it may play a role in reducing self-efficacy. People may assume that they are simply prone to addiction and that there is little they can do to prevent or overcome it.
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