If you’ve ever wondered “what is an addictive personality” or even “do I have an addictive personality,” it’s a somewhat controversial concept. There is the potential there’s a set of personality traits or problematic behaviors that may make you more susceptible to addiction. However, there is a lack of overall evidence and research to support this.
There are personality traits we know associated with addictive behaviors. Addiction is complex , though. We can’t lose sight of that complexity and act as a substance use disorder that comes down to one particular factor or common trait.
Genetic factors, including those that make up your personality, play a part in addiction susceptibility, but so do environment, availability of substances, family history, socioeconomic status, and more.
We’ll talk more about the elements of personality associated with addictive behaviors while highlighting the fact that there isn’t one specific personality type that means someone will develop an addiction or won’t.
Addictive Personality Traits
If you have underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, you can be more susceptible to drug or alcohol abuse. Other signs of an addictive personality can include:
- Binge or comfort eating
- Using alcohol to relax
- Impulsive shopping
- Not feeling satisfied ever, or needing more of certain feelings
- Inability to exercise self-control, especially when it comes to harmful activities
- Creating a false sense of intimacy with sexual partners
- Checking social media often
- Obsessing over certain things
- Excessive risk-taking
If you can’t control or evaluate your actions or set healthy boundaries, you may also have elements of an addictive personality.
When we talk about addictive personalities, we’re most often discussing people who have problems with impulse control.
If you’re often restless and need stimulation or excitement, you may have traits that contribute to addiction.
This need for stimulation could lead to impulsive behavior. You might not think about the consequences of engaging in certain behavior. You could also seek out new behaviors like drug use because you want variety. That need for excitement and variety can become an addiction.
Other Red Flags of An Addictive Personality
Some of the other features of an addictive personality that may occur include:
- Dishonesty—if you’re often dishonest with yourself or others, you could have a personality prone to addiction. Lying is a core component of addiction. The more dependent someone is on drugs, alcohol, or addictive behavior, the more they feel the need to lie. Eventually, lying is second-nature. Those lies are why we describe addiction as a disease of denial.
- Manipulation—do you ever feel like you manipulate people to get what you want?? Maybe you say you love people when you don’t or create elaborate stories to elicit emotional responses. These can be traits often occurring in addiction too.
- Lack of accountability—someone who often shifts the blame off themselves and to others may tend towards an addictive personality. When you aren’t responsible for outcomes or accountable for your behavior, it’s something you should evaluate. If you’re concerned about a loved one having an addictive personality, a lack of personal accountability is a red flag. Then, if someone with this character trait does develop an addiction, they’ll blame everyone but themselves for it and the issues it creates. Becoming accountable is an integral part of addiction recovery.
- Seeking sensations—we touched on this above with impulse control, but it’s a big one in terms of risk for substance abuse. If you’re someone who always wants an adrenaline rush or to feel something new and novel, it could lead to experimentation with drugs or alcohol.
Mental Health Disorders and Addiction
Someone more prone to develop an addiction may have pre-existing mental health disorders. These are called co-occurring disorders. Conditions associated with addiction include depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. Anxiety or panic disorder and personality disorders can also associate with a higher risk of developing an addiction.
Can You Be Addicted to a Person?
If you have what’s described as an addictive personality rather than a substance use disorder, you might feel like you develop addictions to people.
In some ways, you can be addicted to a person, especially if you’re someone with a tendency to seek out new feelings and experiences.
When you first get into a relationship with someone, you may feel a euphoric high. The newness and the intimacy you think you feel can trigger the same reward response in your brain as drugs or alcohol.
The term codependency can describe an unhealthy attachment to another person.
When you become addicted or co-dependent on other people, your relationships don’t tend to be long-lasting. You’re seeking out the newness of the relationship more so than the long-term patterns that develop in healthy relationships.
The Problem with the Concept of an Addictive Personality
While above, we discuss traits that we often see in people with addiction, we also have to be very careful when talking about this subject. Again, addiction is complex and multi-faceted. We don’t want to reduce it into something too simplistic by simply saying someone has an addictive personality.
- When we talk too much about an addictive personality, it can cause you to underestimate your risk for addiction. For example, you may wrongly assume that since you don’t have an addictive personality or addictive traits, you can’t develop an addiction. This isn’t true. While there are addiction risk factors, it is a disease that can affect anyone.
- Talking about addictive personalities can also reinforce negative stereotypes about people with substance disorders. It creates a stigma and links to addiction and negative traits.
- There’s also a tendency for talking about addictive personalities to reduce motivation to change. There’s this idea that if you have an addictive personality, it’s out of your control to change. Someone might end up using genetic predisposition or a genetic component of their personality to justify their drug or alcohol addiction, reducing their motivation to get help.
The reality is that no matter your personality or individual traits if you’re struggling with addiction, you can change your harmful behaviors. You can overcome and manage your addiction.
Reducing Risky Behaviors
If you’re someone who sees that you might have a higher risk of addiction because of your habits, behaviors, tendencies, or traits, you can do things to reduce that risk.
- One important thing to do is practice healthy self-care. Take care of yourself mentally and physically, so you’re less likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- Focus on building strong relationships where you listen to the other person and get to know them deeper.
- Try to socialize and connect with other people without alcohol or other addictive substances.
- If you have mental health concerns, get help for them, and don’t use drugs or alcohol as a way to relieve stress.
Getting Help For Addiction
The bottom line is that addictive personalities often directly relate to substance abuse. If you’re struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or you have a loved one who is, don’t accept the idea there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s a lot you can do about it, and Opus Health is here to help; call 855-953-1345 to learn more.