What Is It?

These days, people talk a lot about “addictive personalities.” It is usually misunderstood or used in the wrong way. The idea of having an addictive personality brings up images of drug addicts and alcoholics, actors, and rock stars with unfortunate, outrageous behavior. But in reality, anyone could be affected.

But why do certain people develop an addiction to certain things while others don’t? There is a myth that some people have a personality type that increases their risk of addiction. There are a lot of factors that can increase your risk of addiction, but there’s no specific personality type that causes people to develop an addiction. It is agreed by experts that addiction is a brain disease, not a personality type.

Addicted to What?

Also, it can be an addiction to anything—shopping, food, video games, gambling, and sex among others. While some people can walk in a store and buy the one item they’ve been watching for a month, or buy nothing, others with a shopping addiction find it almost impossible to leave without buying something. 

Similarly, one person can stop in for a drink or two at a party and not have another one for days or longer and another person could wind up having every thought focused on when they’ll have the next drink.

Risk Factors that May Cause an Addiction

Personalities are complicated. Although there isn’t one specific type that’s more likely to become addicted than others, there are some factors that can combine to make someone more likely to become addicted to something. These factors include:

  • Genetics

There could be a genetic link to addiction. In fact, studies show that genetics is responsible for about half the possibility that someone will become addicted.

  • Environmental—

If you have family members with addictions it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have an addiction at some time in your life. Other factors such as the following will also play a part:

    • The friends you hang out with
    • Your education
    • Social support
    • The environment where you grew up

To link these things together, addiction is a medical illness and develops the same way as many other illnesses. Someone with an underlying genetic weakness is exposed to an environment that brings on the illness. With drug and alcohol addiction, common environmental factors are stress and the availability of the addictive substances.

  • Mental and Emotional Health—

An individual’s state of mental and emotional health can cause a more significant likeliness of becoming addicted to something. A person with a mental or emotional health illness is more likely to become substance-addicted as a way to cope with the mental or emotional disorder. Common mental disorders that may trigger addictions are:

  • Depression
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Trauma

This is a common occurrence called a dual diagnosis, or comorbid conditions.

  • Exposure—

Obviously, someone who has never been exposed to alcohol can’t become addicted to it. In other words, even if you have an addictive personality, you can’t become addicted to a substance unless you are exposed to it.

How Dopamine Plays a Role in Addiction

Although there isn’t 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 person’s emotions. And the right balance of dopamine is important for both physical and mental wellbeing.

13 Signs of Addiction and an Addictive Personality:

  • Obsessing

Individuals with an addictive personality tend to obsess. Just like an alcoholic will obsess over when he’ll get the next drink or a gambling addict will obsess over the next card game.

  • Always Wants More

A person showing signs of addiction will find that “enough” is never enough. One more drink at happy hour. One more try to win at the scratch-off tickets. They will always have a desire for more.

  • Lying

Addiction and lying go hand-in-hand and have several layers. For example, first, the user lies to himself about having an addiction. After that, he has to lie to everyone else around him. The deeper he gets into his addiction, it’s more likely he’s going to feel the need to rest. Before long, the lies become truths to the addict and he is trapped in a cycle of lies and denial. A person with an addictive personality can also show signs of lying as well, and this would transfer into the same behavior if they become addicted.

  • Manipulation

The thing that the person is addicted to probably takes the top priority in their life, ahead of everything else. As a result of this, they will manipulate others to fulfill the addictive drive. They might lie or make up stories to get money or even pretend to be in love to get someone to take them out to the bars. In the same way, a person with an addictive personality will play the manipulation card for their own benefit.

  • Criminal Behavior

Clearly, you need money to support a habit. Whether it’s gambling or drugs, if manipulation no longer works and the money runs out, a person might resort to committing crimes. Stealing money or expensive items to pawn for cash can help support the addiction. Their understanding of reality could be warped by their addiction. A person with addictive personality traits might also show criminal behavior in the same way.

  • Continuing Despite Negative Results

Bad outcomes could be anything from criminal behavior, not being to stay in a personal relationship, or unfaithfulness. The addictive personality overcomes the desire to stop causing negative results. This is so even when it negatively affects personal and professional relationships, jobs, and their self-image. Once again, their understanding may be distorted. Therefore, they continue with their behavior despite the negative results.

  • Impulsive Behavior

Acting out without thinking about the effect of your actions is impulsive behavior. Most people do have bad judgment at times but people who regularly present this type of behavior are showing impulsive behavior. And that can indicate an addictive personality. Studies that examined the brains of addicts found that they are more likely to make quick decisions without thinking about the long-term aftermath.

  • Not Taking Responsibility

Not taking responsibility for their choices and outcomes is a typical trait for someone with an addictive personality. Likewise, this is also true if addiction develops. The person will continue pointing their finger at everyone else and believing that they have the problem.

  • Revolving Relationships

The traits of someone with an addictive personality such as lying, manipulation, etc., all contribute to failed relationships. Additionally, the need for change and the need for something new also cause short-term cycling through relationships.

  • Seeking Sensation

Similar to a person with an addiction, a person with an addictive personality frequently needs to feel the next “rush” and reward. They chase the next high and often need more of it to keep feeling good, constantly seeking new experiences. However, one problem with sensation-seeking is the continuous desire for something new and different. This can lead to trying out various drugs and alcohol and lead to substance abuse.

  • Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the state of having traits or symptoms typical of someone with a neurosis (mental disturbance). This is also another possible trait of a person with an addictive personality. Those people with high neuroticism frequently respond to challenges or threats with negative reactions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and irritability.  Research has shown that people with high neuroticism are more likely to have a substance use disorder (SUD).

  • Secrecy

Keeping secrets is all-important for a person with an addiction. Also, it is a common trait for someone with an addictive personality. It is nearly impossible for a person’s life and habits to continue in its addictive status if it’s not kept secret.

  • Risk-Taking

The excitement of risk-taking is another common trait of a person with an addictive personality. The simple act of doing something dangerous and impulsive supplies that rush of dopamine that makes the person feel pleasure.

How Can You Avoid Becoming Addicted?

By now it’s clear that people with the risk factors for addiction may have a hard time controlling any enjoyable activity. Just when they quit one addiction, another one takes control. If you have addictive personality risk factors try to avoid these behaviors:

Don’t Eat for Comfort 

Comfort eating is a common way to soothe yourself when you’re disappointed or stressed. And while it’s okay in moderation, it can lead to obesity, food addiction, and binge eating. 

Do: Soothe yourself with meditation, taking a relaxing bath, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Don’t Use Alcohol to Socialize

This is one of the top reasons heavy drinkers give for overdoing alcohol. But very easily, alcohol can become the only way to get along with people.

Do: Connect with other people through common interests or activities. When everyone else is drinking, practice strategies to refuse it.

Don’t: Be “Hyperconnected”

Checking your email or Facebook account constantly and not allowing your phone out of reach might seem normal, but they can lead to problems with internet addiction.

Do: Try to limit your non-work screen time. And be sure that you are unavailable during sleeping hours.

Don’t Over-Shop 

One of the main reasons shopaholics give for running up debts is the rush they get when they buy things that will make them a better person in their minds. 

Do: Work on your self-esteem instead of buying things to boost your ego.

Don’t Self-Medicate with Drugs 

Common psychological problems that people try to self-medicate for are pain, trauma, and difficulty sleeping. There is a prescription for these problems, but prescriptions provide temporary relief. You may become dependent on the medication or you may seek another drug to replace the prescription.

Do: Get help for mental health issues. Although you may never overcome the problem, life will be better by letting go of the idea that the cure is in a pill.

Don’t Use Marijuana to Relax

If you are tense or anxious at the end of a long day, you might have found that some marijuana can help you relax. But it has a rebound effect when it wears off. Anxiety actually increases. It can also harm your motivation or trigger psychological problems.

Do: Look for safer methods of stress management and relaxation

Don’t Believe Quitting is Too Difficult

If you have an addictive personality, you may believe that quitting everything addictive is just too hard. Maybe you went from sex to overeating, overeating to drugs, and on and on. You may think that life without excess is too boring and too normal. This is denial.

Do: Get help with your addiction. Even people with long-term addictions can get help. After you find that it is possible, you may grieve the lost years once you recover.

Don’t Wait to Get Help

It is a myth that a person has to hit rock-bottom before you can get help for your addictions. You may have a personality that craves excess but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. A healthy enthusiasm adds to life, while an addiction takes away from it. 

Unity Behavioral Health can help you find balance in your life. Our addiction specialists are experienced in treating dual diagnosis situations, the most common cause of addictions. We have inpatient and outpatient programs so you can begin your rehab at the right intensity and step down to lower levels as needed.

Of course, Unity has an aftercare program, the final step. We are devoted to helping you have a successful outcome from your treatment, and continue to long-term recovery. Waiting won’t help you in any way. Contact us now. We are available to answer your questions at any time.

References:

www.verywellmind.com

www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org

www.healthline.com

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