Whether the addictive personality exists is very much open to debate. While it’s a popular notion, the idea that one particular personality is more susceptible to addiction than others is met with suspicion by many medical experts. Certain personality traits, however, do seem to encourage risk-taking and addictive behavior.
Even on supposedly reputable websites, you can find plenty of misinformation on addictive personalities. In a Psychology Today article, Stephen Mason announced addictive personalities accounted for 10-15% of the population who “don’t know when to stop,” and somewhat dismissively called addiction an “out of control habit.”
Addicts cannot be so easily categorized, especially in such an insulting and demeaning way. The widely varying nature of addicts is why many experts no longer believe the addictive personality exists. As an article in Encephale points out, addicts come from all walks of life, and the reasons for their addictions include social, familial, psychological, and biological factors.
Addictive Personality Traits
While the concept of the addictive personality as a mental disorder has been dismissed for the most part, it can’t be denied that certain personality traits encourage substance abuse and eventual addiction—not just to drugs or alcohol, but also to pornography, sex, gambling, work, and a host of other activities. These personality traits can be part of the underlying causes of an addiction.
Identifying the personality traits associated with addiction is a crucial part of individual recovery. Justin Daniels, who founded a rehab center called Clarity Way, writes that each different personality should receive unique treatments and therapies in order for recovery to be successful. Assessing and determining the personality traits of somebody struggling with addiction is a must. Let’s take a look at what some of these traits may look like.
Impulsivity and Compulsive Behavior
Feelings of compulsion may increase your risk of addiction. Do you tend to spend excessive time on activities not because you have to, but because you need to? This kind of compulsion can become a problem when directed at self-destructive behavior, or when it turns otherwise harmless activities into behavior which negatively affects your life.
Impulsivity is often seen as a keystone in the development of addiction. Impulsive risk-takers are more likely to experiment with drugs, drink excessively, or engage in dangerous behavior. Often the individual doesn’t feel he or she fits into society and sees impulsive actions as a form of rebellion. Combine impulsivity with a need for instant gratification, and the threat of addictive behavior becomes very real.
Low Self-Esteem and Depression
Low self-esteem, sensitivity to stress, and difficulty dealing with frustration are common traits in addicts. Low self-esteem often makes people vulnerable to peer pressure and engaging in risky behavior to fit in or impress others. Difficulty dealing with stress and frustration can lead to drinking or drug abuse in attempts to self-medicate and relax.
The addictive personality is said to be especially prone to anxiety, depression, or anger. It’s certainly true that many addicts have anxiety and depressive disorders, as well as anger management issues. It’s dangerous, however, to assume mental disorders are somehow a sign of an addictive personality. Depression may often be seen with addiction, but the two are not always connected.
Addiction and Complexity
The personality traits and mental disorders mentioned above can certainly contribute to substance abuse, but whether the addictive personality exists remains debatable. Addictive drugs make physical changes to the brain which lead to addiction. Your personality may encourage drug use, but it’s these chemical changes that ultimately cause addiction.Powered by Sidelines