Behaviors That Reveal Someone Has An Addictive Personality
Addictive personalities refer to a set of traits that are believed to indicate a higher risk for someone developing an addiction. There is little universal agreement on these exact traits. But in general, they relate to a tendency for someone to rely on unsafe habits to an extreme degree to cope with problems.
Addictive personalities are a touchy subject. And addiction is such a broad term that its hard to pinpoint exact behaviors to attribute to them. Still, here are 5 behaviors that reveal someone has an addictive personality.
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 individual’s life experiences.
Aside from addiction to substances like alcohol and drugs, people can become addicted to a variety of behaviors.
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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Healthy Ways To Overcome Addictive Personalities
Whether its compulsive comfort eating or an obsession with social media, any addiction can be used to mask a deep, underlying need. Instead of feeding your addictive tendencies, you can take certain actions to feel healthier and more at peace:
- Practice restorative activities, like mindfulness meditation, yoga, relaxation in a hot bath, exercise or a good nights sleep.
- Connect with others through shared interests and activities that you enjoy.
- Limit your non-work screen time as well as how much time you spend streaming TV or movies.
- Avoid using shopping, sex or other substitutes to bolster your self-esteem.
- Try seeking excitement through healthy avenues, like trying a new activity, traveling or setting a goal for yourself.
- Get professional help if you develop a Drug or Alcohol Addiction.
What Causes An Addictive Personality
The term addictive personality is actually a misnomer. Research has shown that there isnt one generic personality type thats more prone to addiction. Addiction is a complex health concern that can affect anyone, no matter their background or personality.
So why do some people develop an addiction to activities or substances while others can try them briefly then move on? Addiction is not a personality trait its a disorder that affects the brain. The reward circuits in your brain can become rewired to constantly crave the things youre addicted to.
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Diagnosed With Other Mental Health Disorders
Certain mental health disorders can create a greater risk for developing an addiction.9
- Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder
- Generalized anxiety or panic disorder
- Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
People who experience severe, moderate, or even mild mental health disorders may often use drugs as a way to self-medicate.
Unfortunately, some drugs may worsen mental health symptoms, both in the short term and long term. For example, cocaine use can exacerbate bipolar disorder symptoms and even contribute to its progression. 10
ntal illness, they experience changes in their brain activity, increasing their likelihood of developing an addiction. These changes can contribute to addiction by increasing the rewarding effects of drug use and reducing the awareness of a drugs adverse effects.
When someone with a mental health disorder uses drugs, they may also experience relief from the disorders symptoms. For example, the changes in the brain of someone with ADHD are also associated with drug cravings. Individuals with co-occurring addiction and ADHD often report more significant cravings. 11
How Dopamine Plays A Role In Addiction
Although there isnt any medical test to determine who might develop an addiction, there are personality traits that can make a person more liable to develop an addiction. A common factor beneath every addiction is the feeling of reward. Your brain registers all pleasures in the same way, no matter where they come from. It could be a glass of wine, a casino environment, a shopping spree, or a delicious meal.
When a person receives the feeling of reward, the brain is flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Among other things, dopamine plays a part in controlling a persons emotions. And the right balance of dopamine is important for both physical and mental wellbeing.
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Datinga Recovering Addict Or Someone With An Addictive Personality
Perhapsthe person youre interested in used to struggle with drug or alcoholaddiction. Maybe the individual suffered from substance dependence for months,even years. Now, he or she is in recovery, working to build a life free fromaddiction.
Manytimes, people who are in recovery are advised to avoid romantic relationshipsfor at least a year. It allows them to spend more time working on themselvesand overcoming the negative effects of addiction. It also gives them time toheal from the pain of substance dependence.
Addictionis complex and it isnt always easy to understand the effects of it. Even aftertreatment, people who have struggled with substance abuse and addiction oftenhave a hard time working through the changes that addiction brought to theirlives.
Drugand alcohol addictions can cause people to feel isolated and distanced fromothers. It can cause separations in families and amongst circles of friends.People who suffer from substance dependence and addiction often spend more timeusing or in search of substances to use than they do with their loved ones.
Drugand alcohol addictions literally take over peoples lives. So, once an individualreaches out for help and goes through professional addiction treatment, its best for him or her totake time to completely overcome the effects of addiction.
Biologically Related To Someone With Addiction
Like many psychiatric disorders, an individuals genetic makeup can play a significant role in whether they develop substance use disorder. In fact, genetics may account for 40% to 60% of addiction risk.7 Scientists have found this percentage of risk by studying twins and children born to parents with addictions and later adopted by families who did not suffer from addiction. 8
There is no single gene responsible for addiction. However, a combination of genes within a persons DNA may amplify their risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction.
These genes may cause a persons brain to form in a way that predisposes them to addiction by giving them an atypical response to dopamine, an abnormally small amygdala, or unusual levels of serotonin. These genetic variations can influence the way a person responds to cravings, withdrawals, and stress. 9
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Personality Traits And Addiction
Addiction is defined by scholars as a biopsychosocial disorder characterized by persistent use of drugs despite substantial harm and adverse consequences”. Substance-based addictions are those based upon the release of dopamine in the brain, upon which the range of sensations produced by the euphoric event in the brain changes the brains immediate behavior, causing more susceptibility for future addictions. Behavior-based addictions, on the other hand, are those that are not linked to neurological behavior as much and are thus thought to be linked to personality traits it is this type of addiction that combines a behavior with a mental state and the repeated routine is therefore associated with the mental state.
From Experimenting To Getting Hooked
As individuals continue with addictive habits or substances, the brain adapts. It tries to reestablish a balance between the dopamine surges and normal levels of the substance in the brain, Morikawa said. To do this, neurons begin to produce less dopamine or simply reduce the number of dopamine receptors. The result is that the individual needs to continue to use drugs, or practice a particular behavior, to bring dopamine levels back to “normal.” Individuals may also need to take greater amounts of drugs to achieve a high this is called tolerance.
Without dopamine creating feelings of pleasure in the brain, individuals also become more sensitive to negative emotions such as stress, anxiety or depression, Morikawa said. Sometimes, people with addiction may even feel physically ill, which often compels them to use drugs again to relieve these symptoms of withdrawal.
Eventually, the desire for the drug becomes more important than the actual pleasure it provides. And because dopamine plays a key role in learning and memory, it hardwires the need for the addictive substance or experience into the brain, along with any environmental cues associated with it people, places, things and situations associated with past use. These memories become so entwined that even walking into a bar years later, or talking to the same friends an individual had previously binged with, may then trigger an alcoholic’s cravings, Morikawa said.
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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.
Drug And Alcohol Addiction Is Often Accredited To An Addictive Personality Without Properly Defining The Phrase By Better Understanding Addictive Personalities Those Struggling With Addiction Can Find The Help They Need
Substance use disorder affects 1 in 10 Americans, and at least 59,000 people in the United States died in 2015 from a drug overdose. Knowing how large of an issue drug misuse is in the country, finding the root of this disease is important for the future health of the country.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be the result of many struggles in a persons life. Some of the most common reasons people misuse drugs include:
- Stress at work
- Chronic pain
- Doctors prescription
However, many believe that their struggle with substance use disorder is part of their addictive personality, which can lead to a discussion on the overarching roots of addiction.
The Recovery Village conducted a survey with 400 participants in the United States on a range of topics, including the causes of addiction and hereditary patterns of substance misuse in their own families. When asked about the biggest contributing factor to their own drug or alcohol addiction, 35 percent of respondents attributed substance use disorder to mental illness. Right behind mental illness, though, was addictive personality at 32 percent.
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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.
The Myth Of The Addictive Personality
The recently deceased writer and television personality Anthony Bourdain was criticized by some for recreationally using alcohol and cannabis, in what was seemingly a very controlled and responsible manner, decades after he quit heroin and cocaine. Was this a valid criticism? Can a person who was addicted to drugs or alcohol in their teens safely have a glass of wine with dinner in their middle age?
It depends on which model of addiction and recovery you subscribe to. If you are a traditionalist who believes that addictions last a lifetime, that people readily substitute addictions, and that people have ingrained addictive personalities, the answer is: absolutely not. This would be playing with fire.
I learned early in my own recovery how critical it is to apply logic and evidence to the field of addiction, and that just because things make sense, and because we have thought about them in a certain way for an extended period of time, that doesnt mean that they are necessarily true. While in rehab, I was actually told a lot of other things that turned out to have no basis in scientific evidence. For example, I was told on a daily basis that a drug is a drug is a drug. This mentality doesnt allow for there being a difference between, for example, the powerful opiate fentanyl, which kills thousands of people every year, and buprenorphene which is a widely-accepted treatment for opioid use disorder.
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Why Do We Get Addicted To Things
17 October 2017
Think about an experience that makes you feel good. It could be successfully completing a project at work, eating a warm chocolate chip cookie or taking a swig of whiskey. It could be a puff of a cigarette or a shopping trip. A dose of Vicodin or a hit of heroin.
Those experiences don’t automatically lead to addiction. So what makes a particular habit or substance an addiction? What propels some people to seek out these experiences, even if they are costly or detrimental to their health and relationships?
“Addiction is a biopsychosocial disorder. It’s a combination of your genetics, your neurobiology and how that interacts with psychological and social factors,” said Maureen Boyle, a public health advisor and director of the science policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That means it’s a lot like any other chronic disorder, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. And just like other chronic diseases, addiction is both preventable and treatable, Boyle said, but added that if left untreated, it can last a lifetime.
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.
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The Obsessive Compulsive Trait
Addiction sometimes has to do with a lack of impulse control, but this is not exclusively the inability to resist impulses. In fact, people who are too rigid with managing their impulses may also end up using substances as a manifestation of an obsessive-compulsive behavior pattern. In fact, addiction often becomes a compulsion to use the substance based on a habit that has formed over time rather than a single impulse to try something new.
In this way, people with intense focus and habitual behaviors may be as likely to develop addiction as those who are unable to control impulses. The obsession with using psychoactive drugs is a main symptom of the disorder, and it can exist both separate from and in concert with a lack of impulse control that can also be a hallmark of addiction.