What is an addictive personality?
The term “addictive personality” is a phrase that has been part of common parlance for a while now, yet what does it mean? and traits of an addictive personality? For many, the term implies that there is a certain class of people who is predestined to develop substance use disorders.
This personality type is identifiable by certain traits and ways of behaving that indicate a predisposition to abuse alcohol and drugs. While certain personality traits, like impulsivity and compulsive behavior, are indeed often associated with addiction, it is fallacious to assume that certain personality types will inevitably develop substance or behavior disorders. In fact, addiction affects individuals from all walks of life and with a wide range of personality traits.
Messy and impulsive types are just as susceptible to addiction as organized control freaks. However, there are a number of factors that do influence an individual’s likelihood of developing a substance use disorder, and some of these factors manifest themselves in a person’s behavior, demeanor, and personality.
Character Traits Of an Addictive Personality
While there is no one personality type that all people with addicts share, certain behavioral patterns can indicate a general susceptibility to addiction. People with these traits might struggle to control and moderate their use of addictive substances more than others. These traits include:
- Impulsivity and lack of self-regulation
- Indifference and apathy
- Disconnection from other people
- Codependent or people-pleasing behavior
- An extreme inclination for risk-taking and adventure
- Obsessive thinking or behavior
- Frequent association with others who engage in substance abuse
While these traits are common outward manifestations of a vulnerability towards addiction, it is often more helpful to examine the underlying causes. Research has shown that addiction stems from both environmental and biological factors. While no one addict is the same, many share a common history.
Environmental Factors for People with Addiction
An individual’s environment affects their ability to cope with drugs and alcohol, especially an individual’s environment during crucial developmental stages of childhood and adolescence.
Studies have shown that individuals who are exposed to substance abuse during their childhood are more likely to develop substance use disorders of their own down the line. Peer groups who engage in substance abuse normalize this behavior and also exert pressure on an individual to abuse substances themselves.
Family members who use drugs and alcohol in an addictive manner are also likely to influence the future behavior of their child. The level of exposure a child has to substance abuse has a very strong influence on their own relationship with substances.
Individuals who suffer from trauma, which often occurs when substance abuse occurs in the family environment, are also predisposed toward developing substance use disorders.
When an individual develops post-traumatic stress, emotional regulation can become extremely difficult. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.
While substance abuse can sometimes provide short-term relief by blocking out painful memories and giving an individual a sense of control of their own thoughts and feelings, ultimately this pain-avoidance strategy can lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Biological Factors that Influence Substance Use Disorders
People who use substances early on in life while their brains are still developing are far more susceptible to addiction. Research has shown that not only are adolescents more likely to impulsively try drugs, their brains are also more plastic and malleable, which means that substance use is more likely to become a habit.
The adverse effects of early childhood substance abuse extend from addiction to learning difficulties. The earlier a child begins using drugs and alcohol, the more issues they’re likely to have, and the more likely they are to develop an addiction.
Addiction also has a genetic component. People who have family members with a history of substance abuse are statistically more likely to develop substance use disorders themselves.
This also relates to the environmental factor discussed earlier: family members who abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to expose their children to substances and also more likely to traumatize them. Some public health officials even recommend that if multiple family members suffer from addiction, it is wise to avoid addictive substances altogether.
The neurological and mental health of an individual is another major factor in the development of substance use disorder. People with depression, anxiety, OCD, or a personality disorder have a tendency to turn to psychoactive substances as a form of self-medication.
Impulse control disorders, which include compulsive behavior surrounding sex, gambling, and even videogames, are also associated with substance abuse. Individuals with mental illness and addiction are often termed “dual diagnosis” or “comorbid.” They require treatment for both conditions, as one can easily trigger a relapse for the other.
Addiction Treatment for Higher Risk Personalities
While no personality type is destined for addiction, it can’t be denied that certain personality traits, environmental factors, and biological factors influence an individual’s susceptibility to uncontrollable substance abuse. These “addictive personalities” are often unable to moderate or quit using drugs on their own and require outside help.
Design for Recovery is a sober living home for young men located in West Los Angeles. Our supportive staff members and our highly structured program is geared toward helping even the most vulnerable personality types.
Whether you’re newly seeking help or you’ve tried other sober living homes before with little success, Design for Recovery can work with you to build a new life and build a foundation for long term sobriety. Check out our testimonials to see how Design for Recovery has helped even the most hopeless-seeming cases of addiction.