An “addictive personality” is a term used frequently, whether by a doctor, in cinematic films, or in conversation with friends. While some people may use it loosely, or as a joke, this term should not be taken lightly. An individual who meets the criteria for an addictive personality will have a set of traits that make them more prone to drug addiction, alcoholism, or other serious forms of addiction. Addictive personalities are also linked to gambling, eating disorders, “adrenaline junkies,” and more. Becoming educated on the signs of an addictive personality and how to overcome it is extremely important in order to avoid potentially life-threatening issues like drug addiction. Additionally, people with addictive personalities share a few common traits, making it easier to identify the signs early on.
Common Traits of Individuals at Risk for Addiction
While it is sometimes difficult to identify an addictive personality, there are a few common traits that are easily recognizable. Some people are able to moderate their drinking, while others go through phases of their life where they may consume illegal substances. However, individuals who display a multitude of these traits are at a higher risk for developing an addiction to psychoactive substances.
Individuals who are at high risk for developing an addiction are typically:
- Impulsive in behavior
- Thrill-seekers or “adrenaline junkies”
- Less inclined to say no, displaying “people-pleasing” behavior
- Manipulative for personal gain
- Suffering from additional mental disorders
- Unable to self-regulate their emotions
- Related to people with substance abuse issues
While it is possible to display these traits without developing an addiction, individuals who do not receive intervention early on usually suffer from some form of substance abuse. However, when provided with proper awareness, support, and early intervention, addiction can be avoided altogether. In order to provide insight into the addictive personality, the following will explain each personality trait in more depth.
Impulsive behavior is characterized by an individual acting with little to no thought about the consequences that may follow. An example of impulsive behavior is shopping without regard to how much money you are spending. Additionally, impulsive behavior is the act of making instant decisions without considering the long-term consequences. This behavior is a common sign of an addictive personality.
Many of us enjoy adventurous activities. However, when someone frequently partakes in dangerous thrill-seeking activities, they may be displaying a sign of an addictive personality. When someone performs thrilling and dangerous stunts, a rush of dopamine is released in their brain. This is the aspect of thrill-seeking that can cause an individual to become addicted. Oftentimes, people with an addictive personality will become addicted to the dopamine rush they receive from risky behavior. This is because dopamine is the pleasure chemical responsible for creating feelings of happiness and satisfaction. As a result, people with an addictive personality will feel as though they can’t get enough, causing them to continually thrill-seek.
Oftentimes, people with an addictive personality have a difficult time telling others “no”. Many want to make their friends and families happy, but when it comes to the price of our happiness – it becomes a problem. When you are unable to say no, you may be unable to prioritize your own responsibilities. As a result, your people-pleasing behaviors may begin to negatively impact your schooling, career, and even mental state.
One of the signs of an addictive personality is the ability to manipulate others for personal gain. Commonly, addicts are skillful manipulators due to their need to obtain their substance of choice. In addition, they will manipulate friends, loved ones, and coworkers in order to keep their addiction secret. On the other hand, when an addict’s loved ones already know of their addiction they will use manipulation to invoke feelings of pity from their family. This allows them to continue their addiction without consequence.
Having Additional Mental Health Disorders
Someone suffering from a pre-existing mental health disorder is more likely to develop an addiction. In particular, individuals without proper treatment for their mental disorder(s) are more likely to attempt to self-medicate through drugs or alcohol. However unfortunate, this can lead to the development of a co-occurring disorder; a mental health disorder coupled with substance abuse disorder.
Common mental disorders associated with the development of addiction include, but are not limited to:
- Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder
- Anxiety or panic disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia
For example, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45% of people with addiction also suffer from a co-occurring disorder. All too often, people suffering from mental conditions turn to using substances to cope. This leads to the development of an addiction that requires medical treatment and psychiatric treatment.
Poor Emotional Regulation Skills
Individuals who have a hard time regulating their emotions show signs of an addictive personality. The inability to self-regulate causes an individual to look for other forms of emotional regulation, sometimes leading them towards unhealthy coping mechanisms. As a result, the individual may use substances to cope when they experience uncomfortable emotions. Unfortunately, this makes an individual at high-risk for developing a substance use disorder.
Family History of Addiction
Individuals with family members suffering from addiction are more likely to suffer from an addictive personality. As a result, they are also more prone to developing an addiction themselves. In fact, studies have shown that addiction can be genetic, meaning that addiction can be passed down generationally. However, an individual’s genetic makeup does not guarantee that they will develop a substance use disorder. There is a surplus of additional behavioral and environmental factors that can contribute to an addictive personality.
Helping Individuals with Addictive Personality
Early intervention is vital for individuals with addictive personalities. Luckily, there are many different forms of therapies and treatments that can help a person to avoid addiction or conquer an addiction that they suffer from. For example, behavioral therapy is commonly used to help individuals learn to self-regulate their emotions – preventing them from turning to substances. On the other hand, for those who already suffer from addiction, the combination of behavioral therapy and medical addiction treatment is recommended. Fortunately, there are thousands of reputable addiction treatment programs that can make recovery possible for anyone in need.