What Is an Addictive Personality?
There are many reasons why people become addicted to an object (such as drugs or alcohol) or certain activities, like gambling, watching porn, or overeating. This is known as having an addictive personality. Different theories point to biological causes, but others focus on emotional and social factors.
It has been hypothesized that addicted individuals have common personality traits that predispose them to addiction. Do you have an addictive personality? Do you have a higher risk of becoming addicted to prohibited drugs or alcohol? Let’s take a look at what scientific research has to say.
Understanding Addictive Personalities
Although a number of traits have been linked to addiction, it is nothing more than a myth, at least according to some researchers. Just because someone is impulsive or withdrawn does not mean they will get hooked the first time they smoke, use drugs, or place one huge bet on a casino game. Also, you might come across the term “addictive personality disorder” but there is no such diagnosis.
Addictive personality is a list of traits that can contribute to an addiction. The author of one of the studies on addictive personalities enumerated several personality factors but concluded that there is no single set of psychological characteristics that encompass all addictions.
To avoid confusion and false reassurance, note that the concept of addictive personalities is only based on assumptions. There is no widely accepted evidence that supports such claims. These personality traits can result from addiction but do not predict it.
People with this type of personality feel energized when interacting with others. Extraversion was studied in relation to drug addiction, gambling, exercise, and social media, among others, but showed disproving results.
Impulsivity is the tendency to act on a whim despite its negative consequences. Poor impulse control is said to have an influence on almost all stages of drug use. It is also associated with problematic gambling and computer gaming addiction, as well as psychological conditions such as bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
More popularly known as thrill-seekers, these people crave experiences that are new, complex, and highly stimulating, even when they are dangerous. Similar to impulsiveness, sensation-seeking is related to substance use, irrespective of the type of substance involved.
Tobacco, cannabis, or alcohol misuse are commonly seen among anxious people. It can occur from trying to minimize anxiety by using various substances.
While playing video games can enhance a person’s self-esteem and ability to connect with others, they can be beneficial for those with social anxiety disorder, but it can also turn into an addiction.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Depression and addiction often present together. But it is not clear which causes which. Withdrawal from certain drugs and alcohol may also mimic depressive symptoms.
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Is Addiction a Disorder?
Despite years and years of research and collaborative thinking, conflicting views about addiction persist up to this day.
The American Psychological Association (APA) considers addiction as a complex brain disorder characterized by irresistible desire or compulsions, withdrawal symptoms, and utter disregard for negative consequences caused thereby. This concept suggests that it is impossible for addicts not to satisfy their cravings.
However, some authors believe that—while the desire to use is difficult to resist—it is not irresistible. The proponents of this theory argue that https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297350/addiction is a choice. Empirical evidence showed that the majority of addicts quit using drugs in their 30s even without intervention, challenging the traditional concept that addiction is a brain disease.
A third model demonstrates that both theories are correct. Addiction can be both compulsive and voluntary in nature. The desire to use drugs is persistent, but people make choices based on many psychological and socioeconomic factors.
What Causes Addiction?
It is difficult to understand the underlying causes of addiction due to its multifaceted nature. Genetics plays an important role. Our genes impact the development of addiction between 40% and 70%. Environmental factors, including domestic violence, peer pressure, and neglect, also increase the risk of addiction.
There is no set of rules that determine specifically who will develop substance or behavioral addiction. However, addiction can be treated successfully. Help is also available for those with addictive personalities.
The Recovery Process
The goal of treatment is to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on people’s brains and help them regain control of their lives. Treatment depends on the type of addiction, among other factors. Patients with co-occurring mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder are more difficult to treat. These people will require multiple types of treatment.
Some treatment options may include the following:
- Hospitalization/rehabilitation treatment. This can either be inpatient or outpatient. These clinics will keep you safe while recovering.
- Behavioral treatment. Effective behavioral therapies are available for people with addictive personalities who want to learn self-regulation skills. By understanding their behavior and identifying their triggers, they will be able to gain control of these traits.
- Medications. These are often used together with other therapies to manage symptoms of substance abuse and mental health disorders.
- Therapeutic communities. Surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people are crucial to recovery.
Be sure to speak with your doctor about what types of treatment and recovery options could work for your individual needs.
If you have a high-risk of forming an addiction, get help. Talk to your parents, teachers, a friend, or counselor for guidance. There are people who can help you understand your behavior so you can better regulate it. Awareness will give you the power to confront your addictive personality before it turns into an addiction.
- PubMed (Addiction: Choice or Compulsion?)
- PubMed (The Addictive Personality.)
- PubMed (Addictions and Personality Traits: Impulsivity and Related Constructs)
- Recovery.org (Addictive Personality Disorder)
- PubMed (Personality profiles of substance and behavioral addictions.)
- NIH (Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)