Do I Have An Addictive Personality? Taking An OnlineTest For Addictive Personality
Addiction involves a complex series of interactions, including both genetic and environmental factors. Someone can develop an addiction quickly or over time. One group of people manage to function at work and home while living with an addiction, while some are unable to maintain a job or relationships. There is no face of addiction, a mostly invisible disease. Is there a series of personality traits that can accurately predict the onset of an addiction? Let’s explore how addictions and its symptoms develop, as well as the utility of online addictive personality tests when compared to other forms of support.
What Is An Addictive Personality?
Despite its common use, addictive personality is not a recognized or classified personality disorder. The term comes from the idea that a particular set of traits make individuals more prone to mental health issues, such as addiction. The most common characteristics associated with the concept of an addictive personality disorder are dishonesty, a tendency to manipulate, impulsivity, thrill-seeking behavior, selfishness, irritability, and interpersonal conflict.
Proponents of this idea suggest that identifying these traits in an individual will improve the likelihood of preventing addiction. It will allow people to be screened for addictive traits, and anyone prone to addiction can be treated for their personality traits that encourage addiction—thereby preventing addiction from coming to fruition.
The issue, though, is that no definitive studies have ever successfully linked these traits with addiction. Although some individuals struggling with addiction are prone to dishonesty, selfishness, manipulative thinking, and thrill-seeking behavior, these components are not present in all individuals who have an addiction or even a statistically significant amount. Addictive personality, then, is not a legitimate set of traits; it is an idea that can be used to prevent potential addictions from forming.
How Addiction Manifests
Addiction most often manifests in the form of compulsive behavior, and as a consequence, many addictions are researched and understood from the perspective of compulsive disorders, rather than addictive disorders.
Addiction usually presents as a compulsive need to indulge in behaviors or consume an item. Someone who is addicted to shopping might compulsively check their email for coupons, seek out opportunities to shop, and spend money even when it adversely affects them. Someone who is addicted to relationships might continually “hop” from one short-lived relationship to the next, and possibly to the detriment of their health, safety, or happiness.
Addiction is far more than a tendency toward a behavior; addiction is an uncontrolled, overwhelming, and unhealthy compulsion to engage in a certain behavior, which can often involve consumption. Addiction should not be taken lightly, and difficulty abstaining from something is not enough to qualify an individual as having an addiction.
Consuming alcohol daily is not, on its own, enough to signal an addiction to alcohol. Instead, addiction is only identified as such when it is uncontrolled, has a dangerous effect on an individual’s life, and has effectively taken over someone’s life or psyche.
Addiction Versus Use
The terms substance addiction and substance use are typically used as though they are the same; you might see “substance use” and “substance addiction” used interchangeably to describe an individual’s challenges with substances like alcohol or illicit drugs. There are differences between the two, however, particularly from a clinical view; a person using a substance may be using it in a healthy or unhealthy way. Unhealthy ways include binge drinking on a Saturday night. Someone who uses a substance has not lost control of their life or faculties.
Conversely, someone who is addicted to an item or substance has lost control of their lives or faculties and uses it even when it harms them. Drug use and drug addiction are not the same thing. One can use substances without having an addiction to them, and one can be recovering from an addiction to them even if they haven’t used them in a few days, weeks, months, or years.
Online Addictive Personality Tests
Because addictive personality is not a concrete, recognized diagnosis, finding a legitimate form of testing is not as simple as visiting a website devoted to psychology and plugging in a few snippets about yourself.
Instead, an online addictive personality test is more likely to focus on how you handle stress and coping, as these are far greater indicators of whether or not addiction is likely to develop. An online addictive personality test worth its salt will not ask you about your personality traits, but will instead ask about any of the symptoms you might have that could indicate addiction.
A reliable online addiction test might also question your health history and family health history. Individuals with a history of mood or personality disorders, or addictive disorders in their family might be at higher risk of developing an addiction. This is due, in part, to the possibility of not having healthy coping mechanisms in place, as might be the case with untreated anxiety or depression, and partly due to the role family history plays in addiction.
Symptoms Of Addiction
An addictive personality test is not going to be administered by a mental health professional because it is not an officially recognized diagnosis. There are distinct actions associated with addiction, so addictive behaviors can be identified and assigned a name. The symptoms of addiction focus less on the action or substance, and more on the behaviors surrounding the action or substance. These symptoms include:
Compulsive behavior versus controlled behavior
Out-of-control feelings: People may create rules for themselves, such as “Just one more,” or “just a few more minutes.” They might also develop rules such as “Only on the weekends,” or “only a few times a month.” In addiction, people usually break their rules repeatedly because the mechanism to keep impulses at bay is no longer functioning.
Obsessive thoughts: S addicted to shopping, for instance, might spend a good portion of the day thinking about what they might buy later, going through mental lists, and making plans later to make purchases. Obsessive thoughts pop up frequently and without warning, and often do not respond to efforts to move on to other thoughts.
Intense cravings: People who live with an addiction may experience extreme and overwhelming cravings for the item or behavior they desire. This is a significant part of what separates use and addiction. Watching television on occasion, for instance, or while doing dishes each night is very different from feeling a compulsion to turn the TV on every hour of every day. In a similar vein, addiction is something that you go to again and again on the heels of a craving..
Addiction Treatment And Recovery
Addiction treatment is approached using a variety of methods. Therapy is almost always a factor involved in treatment, as addiction rarely develops in an individual with exceptional mental health. Psychotherapy can help get to the root of an addiction and address any traits or trauma feeding the addictive cycles. Some types of addiction might require pharmaceutical aid to help stem anxiety and depressive symptoms or cause an adverse reaction to using an illicit substance.
Online therapy continues to show promise in helping people overcome their addictive behaviors. In one study, researchers concluded that online interventions were effective in reducing alcohol and cannabis consumption. If you are experiencing challenges with alcohol, cannabis, or other substances, then online therapy could provide a safe space to explore the potential reasons and outcomes of any unhealthy associations.
Through online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, you can receive qualified help without navigating time restraints, financial barriers, and fear of stigma associated with traditional face-to-face spaces, particularly in rural areas. Online therapy is also invaluable for people struggling with addiction in that they can book a session in real time. The ability to speak in real-time with a licensed therapist can help someone overcome an urge to resort to addictive behaviors when they otherwise would have had to wait to book an in-person appointment. Establishing a gap between a stimulus and an addictive response is a key part of addiction recovery, and BetterHelp’s ability to elongate this pause gives session participants a major advantage, compared to in-person counseling.
Treatment also frequently involves lifestyle changes. Moving or changing jobs might help if those environments are triggering, or people may be encouraged to avoid certain parts of grocery stores or take a buddy when going shopping. Going without the internet for some time could help ease an online shopping addiction while taking time to be single could help individuals who feel addicted to love or relationships. Minimizing stress and changing habits may also be encouraged to aid in treating addiction.
The term “addictive personality” is something of a misnomer, as it suggests that there are traits associated with an addiction that comprise a personality disorder. Although this is not the case, the DSM-5 has expanded its definitions of addiction and addiction disorders, and increasing bodies of evidence continue to evaluate and acknowledge the possibility of becoming addicted to substances and activities not previously included in addiction guidelines.
Addiction does not always accompany a personality disorder, as there is not a single set of personality traits or backgrounds that accurately predict whether or not addiction will develop. If you are concerned about a present or potential addiction in your life or in the life of someone you love, it may be useful to reach out to an online therapist on BetterHelp. A licensed counselor is available to help you put a name to confusing behavior and identify a path toward autonomy and happiness.
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