The term “addictive personality” is often widely misunderstood and incorrectly used. A person who has traits associated with an addictive personality is not guaranteed to develop an addiction of any kind. However, those living with addiction often have many of these traits, which can include sensation-seeking, risk-taking, neuroticism, and impulsive behavior. If you currently have an addiction or think you may have addictive personality traits, it can be helpful to speak with a licensed mental health professional to work through any concerns or challenges you may be facing. You might choose to connect with a local therapist or match with one via an online therapy platform.
A Note On Addiction
Please note that people can become addicted to nearly anything, not just traditionally addictive substances. It can be possible for someone to become addicted to shopping, food, video games, gambling, social media, and sex, among other possibilities. A person could even become addicted to anxiety.
An addiction can be defined as a compulsive habit that you continue to do despite negative consequences, and that isn’t exclusive to addictive substances.
While some people can walk into 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. Similarly, while one person might be able to stop after a beer or two at a barbeque and not have another drink for days or weeks, another may only be able to think about the next time they’ll be able to indulge.
In general, personalities are very complex. While there’s not necessarily one personality type that’s more prone to addiction than others, there can be several factors that may combine to make someone more likely to become addicted. However, these factors do not guarantee that someone will develop an addiction.
Studies show that there is likely a genetic component to addiction. In fact, research has shown that genetics may be responsible for about half the likelihood of someone developing an addiction.
Many other factors, such as the friends you spend time with, your education, your social support, and the environment you grew up in, can all play a part in whether addictive personality traits eventually contribute to an addiction.
Addiction can be a medical illness, and it 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 substance use disorders, common environmental factors often include stress and the availability of the addictive substance.
Mental And Emotional Health
Poor mental and emotional health can contribute to the development of an addiction. A person with untreated anxiety, for example, may be more likely to turn to substances to relax. It can be vital to note that this usually has the opposite effect and can exacerbate mental illness.
Sometimes, people live in environments where a certain addiction is considered normal. If all of a person’s family members frequently drink alcohol, for example, then alcohol may always be readily available at the house, and heavy drinking might become so normalized that a person can slip into addiction without realizing it.
13 Potential Signs Of An Addictive Personality
There may be no medical test to determine whether a person may eventually develop an addiction, but there can be specific personality traits that might make someone more prone to developing an addiction. Again, this does not necessarily mean that a person with these traits will certainly develop an addiction.
One common factor underlying nearly every addiction can be the feeling of reward. The brain typically registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a cold beer after work, a shopping spree, or a delicious meal. When a person experiences the feeling of reward, the brain is typically flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine. One of the parts dopamine plays may be controlling a person’s emotions. The right balance of dopamine can be vital for both physical and mental well-being.
Here are some possible signs of an addictive personality:
A person with an addictive personality may tend to obsess. Just like someone with an alcohol use disorder might obsess over their next drink, or someone addicted to gambling might obsess over when they can go to the casino to play the slots, a person with an addictive personality can be likely to obsess over certain things as well.
2. Always Wanting More
Addiction and lying can go hand-in-hand and are often 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. Before long, the lies might become truths to them, and they can become trapped in a vicious cycle of lying and denial. A person with an addictive personality may also have the tendency to lie.
Addictions 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 expensive items to pawn for cash, or forging checks to continue to fund their addiction. Their perception of reality could be skewed by their addiction, and therefore, they might justify criminal behavior. Although criminal behavior doesn’t always point to addiction, it can be an addictive personality trait in some cases.
4. Continuing Despite Negative Outcomes
Those living with addiction may experience negative outcomes, such as losing their job, going through divorce, or failing to provide for their families. However, it can be extremely difficult to overcome addiction, which may mean an individual may continue their potentially harmful behavior even after experiencing negative outcomes. A person with addictive personality traits may also have a tendency to continue behaviors that bring about consequences.
5. Impulsive Behavior
Impulsive behavior can refer to acting without thinking about the impact of your behavior. 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 usually more likely to make spontaneous decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
6. 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 actions.
7. Revolving Relationships
The traits of someone with an addictive personality can contribute to failed relationships in some cases. In addition, an impulsive need for change or something new can also lead to short-lived, revolving relationships.
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 can be seen as one who may constantly seek out new experiences and new sources of adrenaline rushes. One potential problem with sensation-seeking can be the continuous desire for something different and new. This may contribute to experimentation with various substances, which can sometimes lead to substance use disorder and other challenges.
People with high neuroticism, which can be a trait associated with addictive personalities, often respond to challenges or threats with emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety, and irritability. Research has suggested that people with high neuroticism may be more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
Keeping secrets is sometimes critical in order for a person with an addiction to continue their addiction. Secrecy can also be a common trait for a person with an addictive personality.
The thrill and excitement of risk-taking can be another common trait of people with addictive personalities. The mere act of doing something impulsive and dangerous can provide a rush of dopamine that can lead to pleasure.
How Therapy May Help
Whether you are living with addiction or believe you may have addictive personality traits, speaking with a licensed therapist can be helpful in guiding you toward the type of life you wish to live and addressing any challenges you may be experiencing.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
Are you interested in trying therapy, but worried about taking the time off work and maintaining appointments? Online therapy often makes it easy to check into video calls and online chats with licensed mental health professionals. It can be possible to work with a BetterHelp therapist from any location with an internet connection.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including various types of addiction. A systematic review of multiple studies stated that “Internet-based therapies for addictions are effective in achieving positive behavioral changes”.
What are the signs of an addictive personality?
The term “addictive personality” is sometimes used colloquially to label personality traits associated with a risk of addictive behaviors such as substance abuse or gambling. However, there is no recognized condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and no psychiatric assessments designed to diagnose it.
Many signs of addictive personality aren’t serious by themselves and don’t necessarily indicate a disorder. But when addictive behaviors interfere with one’s mental health and well-being, they may suggest something more serious. Some of these include:
- Problems with self-control and impulse control that lead to negative consequences.
- Significant difficulty tolerating emotional discomfort and stressful situations.
- Obsessive thinking about specific substances/behaviors/experiences that give one pleasure.
- Difficulty moderating certain behaviors or activities that may be self-damaging.
- Trouble with delaying gratification or controlling urges.
- Difficulty setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
- Using specific substances or behaviors to “escape” from reality.
Which personality type is addictive?
No one personality type has a higher chance of addictive behaviors than others, and addictive disorders such as substance use disorder or gambling disorder are not associated with any specific kind of personality.
What is addictive behavior?
Addictive behavior typically looks different for everyone; how it emerges often depends on the present circumstances.
According to the American Psychological Association, addictive behavior is defined as “actions, often obsessive and destructive, that are related to one’s abuse of or dependence on a substance and that dominate one’s life. Addictive behaviors may include drug-seeking behavior, risk-taking, and breaking laws to sustain one’s drug habit.”
It’s important to note that addictive behavior isn’t limited to alcohol and drug use— there are many types of behavioral addictions, such as:
- Internet Addiction
- Television Compulsion
Addictive behavior isn’t always apparent. Some people with an addiction may try hard to hide it from their friends and loved ones. Others may have an addiction without exhibiting symptoms that fall within the parameters of an official diagnosis.
While symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the type of addiction, there are some common characteristics often associated with a developing addiction:
Intense Cravings And Lack Of Self-Control
People experiencing an addiction often find it difficult to control their urges and contact with the source regardless of the potentially harmful consequences. Factors like emotional states, stress, or environmental states may trigger this lack of control.
The Cravings Grow With Time
Over time, the individual may require increasing contact with the source of the addiction to achieve the sense of relief or “high” they seek.
Withdrawal Symptoms Emerge With Attempts To Quit
When individuals try to reduce or discontinue their addiction, they experience distressing and uncomfortable physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms.
Negative Consequences Emerge As The Addiction Grows
When an addiction becomes firmly rooted, the associated behaviors typically lead to consequences. For example, individuals may experience strife within close relationships, financial trouble, loss of productivity in work or school, and declining health.
Preoccupation With The Source Leads To Neglect
When an individual has an addiction, obtaining, using, or recovering from its source may serve as a significant distraction from daily life, taking time and attention away from essential responsibilities.
What are addictive or dependent personalities?
An “addictive personality” usually refers to a personality that is more likely to become addicted to a behavior or a thing. A dependent personality technically isn’t the same thing, although people may use the term in reference to dependency on an addictive source.
Dependent personality traits usually include an inability to function independently from the input or presence of others. One with a dependent personality disorder (DPD) may have difficulty making decisions alone, often requiring others to handle their personal affairs. People with this disorder can be overly submissive and have difficulty disagreeing with others.
How do you deal with someone who has an addictive personality?
“Dealing” with someone with an addictive personality is typically not the same as helping someone with an addiction. The best place to begin is self-education to understand the motivation behind addictive behaviors, how they impact others, and how they start.
Try to refrain from judgment and criticism. Sometimes, people with addictive personalities are aware that their behaviors aren’t beneficial, but they may not feel in control of how they act. This can be frustrating on its own and feed the origins of addiction when the individual seeks relief through the source of their fixation. When addressing the topic, try to practice empathy and understand their position without aligning with it.
At this point, it may be helpful to do some self-reflection and determine if you’ve been an unwitting participant in the individual’s addictive behavior. Often, people close to an individual with an addiction don’t realize that they may have been supporting the behaviors by financially or emotionally “rescuing” the individual from the consequences of their actions. It may help to have a gentle, empathetic conversation to set boundaries on how you are and are unwilling to support them.
If you’re afraid the individual has already acquired an addiction, get support from friends, family, and groups for people coping with addiction. If you find the person’s behaviors affect your life negatively, it may be beneficial to seek counseling for yourself, too.
The SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) is an excellent, comprehensive resource for individuals coping with addiction and their friends, family, and loved ones.
What is an addictive personality type 1?
A “type one” personality is part of the Enneagram Personality Test that features definitions of nine personality types constructed around an individual’s communication types, motivation styles, fears, and other traits.
Sometimes referred to as “The Perfectionist,” the type one personality typically has a moral, idealistic nature and sometimes unreasonably high personal expectations. These traits, along with their need for approval and desire for control, may leave people with this personality type vulnerable to alcohol abuse or drug abuse as a means of escaping high stress levels. However, they’ll typically go to great lengths to conceal them.
What is an example of addiction?
Substance and alcohol addiction are typical examples, but behavioral addictions are common, too. For example:
- A student may develop a compulsion for skin (excoriation) or hair picking (trichotillomania) to cope with the stress of school.
- Individuals may develop kleptomania (compulsive stealing) because they’re addicted to the “rush” they feel when they get away with it.
- An individual may develop an internet or gaming addiction to “escape” from work or home pressures, which can lead to loss of employment or relationships.
What are the effects of addictive behavior?
Research suggests that addictive behaviors can alter the “salience network” responsible for mediating the mechanisms within the brain that guide healthy responses to external stimuli. These alterations may direct the brain’s reactions towards stimuli associated with addictive behaviors, resulting in addiction.
On top of its physiological impacts, addictive behavior may create rifts in relationships, impairment of productivity, and a decline in mental health and well-being. It can severely affect an individual’s psychological state, and when unaddressed, it can cause mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
What is addictive behavior in society?
Addictive behaviors in society are diverse, running the gamut from compulsive sexual behaviors to compulsive eating to compulsive exercise.
People may become addicted to work, creating a life imbalance that may affect one’s physical health and relationships with friends and family. Some may develop compulsive behaviors around shopping, potentially creating significant financial issues.
Addictive behavior may create other types of addictions to substances like drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications.
Each addictive behavior uniquely impacts the individual’s life and, in turn, the greater community/society around them.
What is the best personality type?
The “best” personality type depends on one’s subjective point of view. Some people may be happier as an introvert, enjoying smaller, more intimate social interactions, while others prefer large groups and vigorous social activity.
Some people thrive in situations of challenge and conflict, while others prefer to avoid it and work to keep things aligned with the status quo.
Rather than seeking to accurately identify the “best” personality type, it’s often more helpful to appreciate people’s individual differences than try to change someone to conform with the traits of a specific personality.
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