If you’re curious about possible traits of addictive personality disorder or other sides of addiction in your life, ongoing education and online therapy can be helpful tools to help elevate your quality of life. Below, we explore how addictions and symptoms can develop in many, as well as the possible efficacy of online addictive personality tests compared to other forms of support.
What Is An Addictive Personality?
Despite its common use, the term or diagnosis of addictive personality is not one that’s generally recognized as a formal, classified personality disorder. The term is seen by many as a colloquial phrase that stems from the idea that a particular set of traits can make individuals more prone to mental health conditions, such as substance use disorder.
The most common characteristics that can be associated with the concept of an addictive personality disorder might be dishonesty, urges to manipulate for personal gain, impulsivity, thrill-seeking behavior, selfishness, irritability and interpersonal conflict.
Proponents of this idea suggest that identifying these traits in an individual can improve the likelihood of preventing substance use disorder, or at least limiting possible causes through environmental factors. A greater observance and awareness of this possible personality profile can also empower people to be screened for possible addictive traits, possibly prompting many to seek early intervention and support prior to the full establishment and expression of substance use disorder begins.
We do want to note: Although some individuals experiencing substance use disorder can be prone to dishonesty, selfishness, manipulative thinking and thrill-seeking behavior, these components are not generally present in all individuals who may have an addiction, or who meet the criteria for a formal substance use disorder diagnosis.
How Does Addiction Manifest?
Addiction can manifest in the form of compulsive behavior. As a result, many addictions might be researched and understood from the perspective of compulsive disorders, rather than addictive ones.
Addiction can present in many as a compulsive need to indulge in behaviors or consume an item. For example: 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. Addiction can occur across many different areas of compulsion or need, possibly to the detriment of the person’s health, safety or happiness.
Addiction can be far more than a tendency toward a specific preference or behavior for most. Rather; addiction can be an uncontrolled, overwhelming and unhealthy compulsion to engage in a certain behavior—such as consumption of a certain item or element. While addiction or substance use disorder should not be taken lightly, difficulty abstaining from something is not generally enough to qualify an individual as having a formal addiction.
Addiction Vs. Use: Exploring The Nuanced Reality Of Addiction And Related Disorders
The terms substance addiction and substance use are often 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 standpoint. Consider this example: A person using a substance can be using it in either a healthy or unhealthy way. Unhealthy ways to use alcohol, for example, can include binge drinking on a Saturday night until a person is in a position where they may harm themselves (or others). Alternatively, alcohol consumed in moderation can enhance one’s experience at social gatherings, offering a pleasant pastime for many.
Generally speaking, someone who simply uses a substance generally has not lost control of their life or faculties. Someone who is addicted to a substance, however, may have difficulty abstaining—possibly experiencing urges to consume at a harmful level or in a harmful way.
Online Addictive Personality Tests: Are They Worth It?
Because addictive personality is not generally seen as a formal diagnosis, legitimate confirmation and testing may require more in-depth analysis than you’ll find from an online exam.
If you do decide to take an online personality test, you might consider using the results to identify possible areas of support that online therapy could assist you in, rather than a formal confirmation of a diagnosis.
In a general sense, online tests should generally not be used as a replacement for a formal diagnosis from a licensed and trained professional. You can enjoy a higher quality of life and possibly more effective treatment by allowing your clinician or psychiatrist to diagnose and support you, rather than an online quiz.
Symptoms Of Addiction: What To Watch For And When To Seek Help
There are distinct actions and symptoms that can be commonly associated with addiction for many—and understanding the range of presentations can positively impact one’s quality of life, possibly indicating areas of need to them or a point in their experience when they may benefit from therapeutic intervention.
These often common symptoms can include:
- Compulsive behavior: This can be noted in a range of areas in the person’s life, rather than just with the substance in question.
- 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.” This generally promotes healthy consumption of the substance or occurrence of the action in question. Conversely, in addiction, people might break their rules repeatedly—as the mechanism to keep impulses at bay may no longer be effective.
- Obsessive thoughts: These thoughts can pop up frequently and without warning, and may not respond to an individual’s effort to move on to other thoughts.
- Intense cravings: People who live with an addiction or substance use disorder may experience extreme and overwhelming cravings for the item or behavior they desire—or for other things that might be unrelated.
Addiction Treatment And Recovery
Addiction treatment is approached using a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, peer support and therapy—both in an online or in-person format. Those living with the disorder may also choose a unified approach, using all three in their management experience. Therapy, for example, can help one to get to the root of an addiction and possibly address any traits or trauma that can be feeding the addictive cycle. Peer support can aid many in accountability and a higher quality of life, and lifestyle changes can promote sustained positive change.
How Can Online Therapy Support Those Experiencing Addiction?
Many can receive qualified help throughout online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, which may help alleviate time restraints, financial barriers and fear of stigma that can be associated with traditional face-to-face therapeutic intervention.
Additionally, online therapy can also be invaluable for people struggling with addiction, as they can book a session in real time—which is a perk that may be limited with other therapeutic options. 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 generally considered to be a key part of addiction recovery for many. BetterHelp’s ability to possibly elongate this pause can give online therapy participants a major advantage compared to in-person counseling.
Online therapy has been suggested to show promise in helping people overcome addictive behaviors. In one study, researchers found data that suggested that online interventions were effective in reducing alcohol and cannabis consumption in the given test group, possibly promoting an efficient means to a higher quality of life. Many believe that online therapy could provide a safe space for many to explore their potential for growth past the state of addiction, possibly prompting many to seek a healthier future.
With this nuance in mind, online tests may not be the most effective diagnostic tool. It is generally best for many to seek the support and diagnostic care from their clinician or psychiatrist. From that point, they may also choose to enact lifestyle changes or seek online therapy to promote a higher quality of life. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.
Can you have an addictive personality and not be an addict?
Yes, you can. An addictive personality is not a medical term or an official diagnosis. This term is used casually to describe someone prone to overindulging or a label that implies that someone is predisposed to becoming addicted. Other behaviors associated with an addictive personality may include constantly buying things or shopping to feel pleasure, having trouble putting your phone down, or rushing into relationships too quickly.
People with these personality traits are not necessarily dealing with addiction and may not even be prone to addiction. Whether someone experiences addiction depends on many factors, including genetics and environment. Be careful taking an addictive personality test. An addictive personality quiz can help you learn more about your symptoms, but they are not a substitute for an assessment by a mental health professional.
How do you know if someone has an addictive personality?
Because an addictive personality is not a medical term or official psychiatric diagnosis, there is no way to determine if someone has an addictive personality. Generally, most people may use this term to describe someone who overindulges in things they enjoy, whether that’s shopping, eating, or watching their favorite TV show.
Which personality traits play a key role in addictive behaviors?
Although there is no such thing as an addictive personality, some personality traits may play a role in addictive behaviors. People who are thrill seekers and willing to try anything may be more likely to self medicate with drugs or engage in other potentially dangerous activities. Those with poor coping skills who self-soothe in unhealthy ways, like over- or under-eating, video game binging, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse, can also be more likely to engage in addictive behaviors. Other personality traits that may play a role include mood swings, low self-esteem, or low self-worth.
How does an addictive personality develop?
People don’t develop addictive personalities, as this is not an official diagnosis. Addiction, though, is considered a chronic disease. It is complex, and there is no single cause or clear path it takes. Brain chemistry plays a role. Substance use and certain activities, like sex or shopping, send surges of dopamine through the brain, which can create an unhealthy drive to seek more pleasurable activities. Over time, the brain becomes sensitized to dopamine surges and needs more and more pleasure to produce the same effect.
Other factors contributing to addiction or substance use disorders are genetics, other mental health conditions, and environmental factors.
How do you know if someone has an addictive personality?
Since an addictive personality is not an official diagnosis, there are no criteria that clearly define what it means to have one. That said, when people talk about someone with an addictive personality, they may be referring to someone who overindulges in things they enjoy or is constantly seeking pleasure, whether eating an extra slice of pie or staying up all night binge-watching their favorite TV show.
Which personality type is most prone to addiction?
According to Scientific American, the idea that there is an addictive personality type is a myth. Research has found no character traits common to all people with addiction. People with addiction problems may be shy or bold. They may have multiple addictions or only one or two. Some are mean, some are kind, some lie and some are more honest. According to this research, only 18% of addicts have a stereotypical personality characterized by things like stealing, lying, or manipulating. While this is far higher than the rate seen in the general population, it still means that 82% of addicts do not fit the stereotype.
What are the six major characteristics of addictive behavior?
Signs of addiction can vary significantly from one person to another, so it can be challenging to narrow the characteristics down to only six. For example, many people with addictive behavior may demonstrate out-of-control feelings, engage in impulsive behavior, have obsessive thoughts, or experience intense cravings for whatever they are addicted to. They may also lose interest in things they used to like, engage in risky behavior, or neglect their responsibilities in daily life. Or, they may only do one or two of these things.
What is the difference between an addictive and obsessive personality?
Neither of these terms is an official diagnosis for a mental illness or medical term, but both may be used casually to describe people with certain personality traits. People prone to overindulging in things that bring them pleasure may be characterized as having an addictive personality. On the other hand, someone who tends to become fixated on certain thoughts or behaviors may be described as having an obsessive personality. They can exhibit various traits, including being perfectionists, highly organized, and detail-oriented. Someone with an obsessive personality might need control and have a difficult time relaxing, which can lead to anxiety.
How to help a child with an addictive personality?
If you are parenting a child who is exhibiting signs of an addictive personality, there are a few things that you can do. First, model the behavior you want to see in your child. When they do something that is against the rules or exhibit concerning behavior, it can help to enact a reasonable consequence so that they can better understand the effects of their actions. If you or your family members need help or want to talk to someone who can support you as you support your child, consider looking for local support groups or talking to a therapist online.
How much of the population has an addictive personality?
Again, this isn’t an official diagnosis nor a medical term, so it is hard to pinpoint how many people have an addictive personality. But, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, in 2021, 46.3 million people aged 12 or older met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder.
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