13 Signs You Might Have An Addictive Personality

Updated March 14, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The term “addictive personality” may sound almost cliché, and it is often widely misunderstood or used in the wrong way. 

In all reality, anyone could have an addictive personality, not just people with obvious addictions. This addictive tendency can depend on personality type, environment, and even genetic factors.

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Are You Worried About Addiction?

Also remember that people can become addicted to anything-- Not just traditionally addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. Someone can get addicted to shopping, food, video games, gambling, social media, sex, and others. A person could even become addicted to anxiety. An addiction is any habit that you continue to do despite negative consequences, and that isn’t just exclusive to addictive substances.

While some people can walk in a clothing shop and buy the one pair of jeans they’ve been eyeing for a month, or walk out without any purchase at all, others with a shopping addiction might find it almost impossible to go in without buying something – every time. And while one person might be able to stop at a beer or two at a barbeque and not have another drink for days or weeks, another could have their every thought focused on when they’ll have the next drink.

Personalities, including addictive personalities, are very complex. While there’s not one specific type that’s more prone to addiction than others, there are several factors that can combine to make someone more likely to become addicted.


Studies show that there could be a genetic component to addiction. In fact, studies have shown that genetics are responsible for about half the likelihood of someone becoming addicted to something.


Many other factors, such as the friends you hang out with, your education, your social support, and the environment you grow up in, can all play a part in whether your addictive personality traits develop into an addiction. Addiction is a medical illness and typically develops in the same way as many other illnesses. A person with an underlying genetic vulnerability can be exposed to an environment that may bring on the illness. In the case of drug and alcohol addiction, common environmental factors include stress and availability of the addictive substances.

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Mental And Emotional Health

A person’s state of mental and emotional health can give more significant rise to becoming addicted to something. A person with untreated anxiety, for example, may be more likely to turn to substances to help relax themselves. This, however, typically has the opposite effect and typically exacerbates mental illness.


Sometimes people are in environments where a certain addiction becomes so normalized that they become addicted as well. If many families drink, for example, then alcohol is always readily available at the house, and heavy drinking might become so normalized that a person can slip into addiction without even realizing it. 

13 Signs Of An Addictive Personality

There’s no medical test to determine who may develop an addiction, but there are certain personality traits that can make someone more prone to developing an addiction.

One common factor underlying every addiction is normally the feeling of reward. The brain typically registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a glass of wine, the sights and sounds of a casino, a shopping spree, or a satisfying meal. When a person receives the feeling of reward, the brain is flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine. One of the parts dopamine plays is controlling a person’s emotions. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Here are some signs of an addictive personality:

  1. Obsessing – A person with an addictive personality may tend to obsess. Just like an alcoholic might obsess over when the next drink is available, or someone addicted to gambling might obsess over when work will be over so they can head over to the casino to play the slots, a person with an addictive personality is likely to obsess over certain things as well.

  2. Always Wanting More – For a person who exhibits signs of addiction, “enough” may never be enough. One more pair of jeans or a couple more pairs of shoes, one more try to win the lottery, or a few cocktails during the lunch hour; they will typically have a desire for more, and the same holds true for many who exhibit addictive personality traits.

  3. Lying – Addiction and lying can go hand-in-hand and are multilayered. First, the person with an addiction may lie to themselves about having an addiction; as a result, they might also have to lie to everyone else around them as well. The deeper they become ensnared in their addiction, they may need to lie about more and more things. And before long, the lies might become truths to them, and they can become trapped in the vicious cycle of lying and denial. A person with an addictive personality might also show signs of lying as well, which would transfer into the same behavior if they become addicted.

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Are You Worried About Addiction?

Manipulation – The very thing that a person is addicted to might take top priority over everything in their life, whether it be family, friends, or partners. As a result, they might manipulate others to fulfill the addictive itch. This could manifest as lying or making up stories to get money or even feigning love and attraction to convince someone to take them out bar hopping. Similarly, a person with an addictive personality might also use manipulation for the sake of maintaining the addiction.

  1. Criminal Behavior – Many bad habits can become expensive. Whether it’s buying clothes or gambling, if money runs out, a person might resort to committing crimes such as stealing money, stealing jewelry or other expensive items to pawn for cash, or forging checks to fill that addictive need. Their perception of reality could very well be skewed by their addiction, and therefore they might justify criminal behavior. 

  2. Continuing Despite Negative Outcomes – This can be anything from criminal behavior, not being able to stay in a relationship for some time, or infidelity. The addiction may supersede the desire to stop encountering negative results, even when it poorly affects personal and their professional relationships, jobs, and self-image. Again, their perception might be skewed, and therefore, they might continue with their behavior despite the adverse outcomes.

  3. Impulsive Behavior – Impulsive behavior means acting out without thinking about the impact of your actions. Although most everyone has poor judgment at times, a person who regularly engages in this type of behavior may have overall impulsive tendencies, which can be indicative of an addictive personality. Studies that looked at the brains of people with addictions found they’re more likely to make snap decisions without considering the long-term consequences.

  4. Not Taking Responsibility – Not taking accountability or responsibility for choices and results may also be a common trait of someone with an addictive personality. This might hold true if addiction develops whereby the person might blame others for having problems instead of looking at their own problems.

  5. Revolving Relationships – The traits of someone with an addictive personality (such as lying, manipulating, and always wanting and needing more) can contribute to failed relationships. Plus, a need for change and something new can also cause relationships to be short-lived and revolving.

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  1. Sensation Seeking – A person with an addictive personality might need to feel the next “rush” and the reward. They might look for the next high and often need more of it to keep the good feelings flowing. A person who is sensation-seeking is one who may constantly be seeking out new experiences and new sources of adrenaline rushes. One main problem with sensation-seeking can be the continuous desire for something different and new, which can lead to the experimentation of drugs and alcohol, which can lead to substance use disorder or bad experiences when someone pushes the limit too far.

  2. Neuroticism – Neuroticism, the state of having traits or symptoms characteristic of neurosis, is another possible trait of someone with an addictive personality. How to tell if you're neurotic? People with high neuroticism often respond to challenges or threats with negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and irritability. Research has revealed that people with high neuroticism are more likely to develop a substance use disorder.

  3. Secrecy – Keeping their secrets is sometimes critical for a person with an addiction, and can also be a common trait for a person with an addictive personality. It may become almost impossible, if not at the very least, tiring, for the person’s world and existence to continue in its current state if it is not kept secret.

  4. Risk-Taking: The thrill and excitement of risk-taking is another common trait of people with addictive personalities. The mere act of doing something impulsive and dangerous can provide that rush of dopamine that can make the person feel pleasure.


Some people may have genetic and personality factors that make them more likely to develop addictions than others. However, many people learn how to control these impulses and even use it toward constructive and healthy behavior. For example, if someone recognizes that they have an addictive personality, they might choose to completely forgo substance use, even in moderation, which can be wonderful for one’s health. Someone who notices they have an addictive personality might also choose to put their traits like obsessiveness or sensation-seeking to habits like working out consistently, maintaining a demanding work schedule, reading, or cooking and eating nutrition-rich food.

If you think you might have an addictive personality, if you want more information about addictive personalities or addiction, or if you have any other questions, the licensed professionals at BetterHelp can help. We have a knowledgeable and caring staff to assist you. You can speak with a therapist 24/7, seven days a week, in a way that is most convenient for you. You can contact BetterHelp here.

Are you skeptical about online therapy? Rest assured that many clinical studies have proven that online therapy is effective in treating many mental health conditions, including conditions that tend to go hand-in-hand with addiction such as anxiety and depression.

Are you interested in therapy, but worried about taking the time off work and maintaining appointments? Online therapy makes it easy to check into your video calls and chats with certified professionals. No more time off work, transportation costs, or childcare concerns—you can talk to a BetterHelp therapist anywhere with an internet connection.

People with addictive personalities do not need to fall into addiction. Talk to a professional to get on the right track.

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