Addictive Personality: Traits Of People Who Are At A High Risk Of Addiction
In an effort to understand addiction, researchers have explored common personality traits among individuals who struggle with addiction.1 In doing so, the phrase addictive personality became a popular way to characterize these individuals as having abnormal reactions to their experiences.2
However, an addictive personality is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis, and labeling someone with this phrase can have a detrimental impact. 3
While labeling someone as having an addictive personality is not an effective way to identify the mental and behavioral patterns that set them apart from others, it is essential to explore risk factors for developing an addiction to more effectively understand the causes of addiction.
Common risk factors include a relation to someone with an addiction, mental health diagnoses, impulsivity, social alienation, compulsivity, and challenges with self-regulation.
Fortunately, mental health professionals can help individuals at risk of developing an addiction learn healthy coping skills to reduce their risk. Evidence-based addiction treatment methods are also available for people who have developed an addiction.
A Tendency Towards Rebellion
People who are staunch non-conformists find themselves in situations that are risky more frequently than fall in line types. This stems from the fact that the mainstream has a tendency towards safety. The antithesis of that mainstream safety is operating outside of societal guidelines which can be dangerous.
If youre a person that cant stand the norm, you may be at a greater risk of having an addictive personality.
Addictive Personality Symptoms In Adolescents
Common traits found in adolescents who abuse drugs and alcohol and exhibit problematic gambling include: 7,8
- High impulsivity.
Some of these traits show up in early childhood, while others may develop later in adolescence. Although not every adolescent who exhibits these traits will develop an addiction, its important to know the predictors so that drug abuse education and early intervention can be provided.
Additional adolescent traits that are associated with computer gaming addiction include: 7
- Low self-esteem.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .
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What Is An Addictive Personality How To Tell If You Have One
Drug addiction, or substance use disorder , is a complex, chronic condition characterized by compulsive behaviors around intoxicating substances, including prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol. These behaviors can lead to an escalating physical dependence and tolerance to these substances, so the person using can quickly increase the dosage they use. This increased use changes how the brain manages neurotransmitters, which can eventually change the structures of the brain. Since addiction is a chronic condition, management of the symptoms can take weeks or months, and relapse is considered part of the condition.
Because addiction can lead to compulsions and the risk of relapsing after quitting several times, the concept of an addictive personality arose. It was believed that some people are merely drawn to being addicted to certain drugs while others are not. It was also believed some things might increase the risk for this issue, including genetics, family history, environment, and mental health.
However, many scientists now believe that the idea of an addictive personality is inaccurate. There are no specific personality traits that can predict whether a person will become addicted to substances or not.
Some Signs Associated With Addictive Personalities Over The Years Include:
- Being emotionally insecure
- Not trusting others to offer support
- Not taking positive feedback well and focusing on the negative
These associations may have started because of the close correlation between addiction and mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. While these conditions overlap, this may be caused more by genetics and similar triggers during childhood than one causing the other.
For example, a 2009 study found that low levels of dopamine were associated with an increased risk of addiction. The study examined people with Parkinsons disease, which involves excessively low levels of dopamine in the brain. After Parkinsons patients receive medication, which mimics dopamine, to treat their symptoms, they were found to be at a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction to increase the dopamine surge in their brains.
The group with Parkinsons did not necessarily have an addictive personality to start with. The presence of more dopamine may have changed some of their behaviors, but that does not inherently mean there is one type of personality associated with a higher risk of addiction. Instead, it is more likely that a confluence of factors increases risks. When you know how many risk factors you have for potentially developing an addiction, you can better manage these and monitor yourself to avoid developing this condition.
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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
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.
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What Does It Mean If You Have These Personality Traits
If these addictive personality traits sound familiar, it may be indicative of someone who has an addictive personality. Many people exhibit one or more of these personality traits, but may not be prone to addiction.
However, it is the combination of these traits that leads to someone having an addictive personality. Someone who is sensation seeking may be more likely to try drugs, but if they are not very impulsive and have strong social connections, they may use only occasionally and within a controlled setting.
People who do not have a compulsive personality will be less likely to engage in activities that negatively impact their lives, even if they engage in these activities experimentally.
People who do fit this combination of personality traits, however, may have an addictive personality. This means they may be more prone to develop addictions to drugs, alcohol or other habit forming behaviors. These people may not be able to drink socially, but instead may feel compelled to have six more drinks after the first one.
If you or a loved one has an addictive personality, it is important to be aware that it may be easier to succumb to temptation and develop habits that can negatively impact daily life.
I Know That I Have An Addictive Personality
The other day my wife asked me what I would be doing if we werent together. She said something about maybe shed have a different career, but I said I might be dead. She was really shocked and asked what I meant. We met in college, and prior to that I was experimenting heavily with a variety of illicit substances. I eventually stopped everything but alcohol for her, but even now I sometimes have trouble controlling my drinking. I think that if I hadnt met her theres a chance I would have succumbed to substance abuse in some way, even if it might have been college experimentation at the time I met her. Its all very ironic, because now Im a doctor who practices in an area at the epicenter of the opioid epidemic, and when I deal with those patients I try to remember that I was really only one positive influence away from their position at one point. Sometimes I think all of us are only one positive or negative influence away from a different life.
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Normal Behavior Can Easily Turn To Addiction With Some People Here Are The Danger Signs
Not everyone who has addictive tendencies is an addict. And yet people wonder about this all the time. Everyone has idiosyncrasies, small neuroses or vices that make them human. The difficulty is knowing when one of those little things needs your attention. Given the right set of circumstances, anyone can become an addict.
It’s human nature to want to soothe both physical and emotional pain. Sometimes this is done through the legitimate use of medication, hobbies, therapy, exercise, or other healthy activities. But sometimes, these substances and behaviors can escalate to unhealthy levels, or morph into using damaging substances and behaviors.
Addiction can come in many forms. They can include, but are not limited to:
- Indulging in Too Much Food, Alcohol, etc
- Collecting Massive Amounts of Unnecessary Items
In moderation, much of this does not typically pose any serious problem. However, non-threatening behavior become problematic when a person relies on impulse at the expense of acknowledging and experiencing feelings – especially painful ones. For some it can very easy to become addicted to avoiding normal and healthy, albeit uncomfortable, feelings.
To stay vigilant against tendencies that could turn into addictions, here are risk factors Graham recommends everyone monitor:
1. You often use a form of “medication/behavior” to discomfort, despite the and adverse consequences.
2. You lie or tell half- about your “medication/behavior.”
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.
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Treatment For Addiction At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital
At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, we believe that, with the right treatment approaches, you can recover from the harmful parts of having addictive personality traits while still staying true to yourself. Addiction recovery can help you to feel creative, build meaningful relationships with your peers, and learn how to use healthy coping mechanisms to heal your mental health.
Here, you have the opportunity to safely detox from alcohol and/or drug use to keep yourself on track toward physical, emotional, and mental recovery. After this process, you will have access to additional treatments such as:
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.
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Signs Of An Addictive Personality
Individuals with an addictive personality can be identified by several traits. Experiencing mental conditions like depression and anxiety can, but do not always, indicate addictive personalities. There are a number of better indicators of addictive personalities, including:
- Comfort eating/binge eating
- Using alcohol to socialize or relax
- Checking ones phone or social media too much
- Replacing sexual partners for a false sense of intimacy
- Impulse buying/excessive shopping
- Never feeling satisfied/needing more of a particular feeling
- An inability to stop using harmful chemicals
- An inability to curtail other harmful activities
Being able to stop and control ones actions indicates healthy boundaries and a lower level of attachment. If you or someone you know hides their harmful behavior, that could signal a problem needing intervention.
You Practice Addictive Math
We have all read the guidelines on the side of a prescription drug bottle. They may warn against drug interactions or give directions on how to take the drug.
Many people with addiction problems disregard these guidelines entirely. Whats worse, they give themselves their own dosage advice.
Rather than taking 1 pill every 4 hours they take 4 pills every 1 hour. Or they may create some other addictive math equation that suits their needs.
Some addicts claim this is because they have a high tolerance. In any case, if you arent taking your prescriptions as prescribed you may be at risk.
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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.
You Suffer From Stress And Anxiety
Addictive behaviors and substances have a subtle effect on some people. At first, that drug or behavior might bring relief or elation.
But over time the positive effects of the substance or behavior diminish. What is left is often only the bad.
If you started a behavior or substance for stress or anxiety relief and continue to have stress you may up the dose or the frequency. While using essential oils may be a positive way to ease anxiety, addictions only backfire.
Stress and anxiety can be trigger signs for addictive people. Getting help from a professional can provide relief.
Plus, you will then avoid the pitfalls of addiction.
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The Myth Surrounding Addictive Personalities
While certain factors may make someone more likely to develop an addiction, the reality of having an addictive personality is a myth. 4 The personality traits inherent in those who are more likely to experience addiction are not necessarily predictive of addiction on their own.
There is no proper evidence to suggest that a specific personality trait, or a set of personality traits, indicates or predicts that the individual who possesses them will develop an addiction. 4
Additionally, there are no universal personality traits inherent in every person who suffers from an addiction.
One person with an addiction might be shy, while another might be highly extroverted. One might be kind and caring, while another might be rude and cruel. One might be honest and forthright in their endeavors, while another might lie and steal. 5
While there is no specific collection of personality traits inherent in all individuals with an addiction or potential addiction, certain factors indicate whether a child is at high risk of developing an addiction at some time in their life.
They tend to stand out from their peers in some way, whether because they are antisocial and insensitive or overly sensitive and moral. They are also often impulsive and engage in high-risk behavior. These individuals may also engage in compulsive behavior and possess a fear of change.
They may sometimes have particular talents, such as giftedness or a high IQ, which are also associated with higher addiction rates. 5