The addictive personality is something that has often been mentioned, especially with regard to alcohol and drug use issues. You can struggle with addiction to many things, not all of them necessarily harmful. Despite the way it sounds, there is no one definitive addictive personality. Having these traits does not sentence a person to a life of substance abuse. It gives you the foresight to avoid things that may become a problem and recognize a problem should one arise.
At Red Oak Recovery®, we’re committed to providing men’s addiction treatment to help young adults overcome their unique challenges. Through psychotherapy and other treatment options, you can retake control of your life. To learn more about our behavioral therapy treatment program, please contact us today at 866.457.7590.
What Is an Addictive Personality, and What Causes It?
People with an addictive personality are characterized by having certain traits and behaviors that increase their chances of becoming addicted to substances, activities, or behaviors. These people may have difficulty dealing with difficult emotions such as loneliness, sadness, boredom, and anger. They may also be impulsive and seek out instant gratification without considering the consequences of their actions.
Research suggests that certain biological factors may contribute to an addictive personality, including:
- Brain chemistry
- Trauma history
- Lifestyle choices
Genetics can play a role in addiction vulnerability if there is a family history of addiction or mental health issues. Brain chemistry imbalances caused by serotonin or dopamine deficiencies can result in mood swings which may lead to substance abuse in order to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety. Poor parenting, neglect, or abuse in childhood can lead to an inability to cope with difficult emotions later in life, making it more likely to fall into substance use as a coping mechanism. Traumatic events such as the death of a loved one or a physical injury may also trigger addiction. Similarly, lifestyle choices such as not taking care of oneself or engaging in risky activities can increase the risk of developing an addictive personality.
The Genetic Component
Genetics can be responsible for a significant portion of the addictive personality. People who have a parent who was addicted to drugs or alcohol have a higher probability of also developing an addiction. This is also true of individuals who have a parent that suffered from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or bipolar disorder. This does not mean the individual will develop a drug or alcohol usage problem. They may avoid those substances because of the bad memories, but the addictive personality may show up in ways such as constantly changing sexual partners, excessive shopping, or gambling. In addition to genetics, certain personality traits are often observed in the addictive personality.
Indicators of Addictive Behavior
Every addiction contains one main thing, and that is the continuance of the activity regardless of the problems continuing causes. Personality traits that can indicate a tendency toward an addictive personality can include:
- You become overly passionate about a subject of interest. This means to the extreme where you can’t focus on any other activities. Think of the person who “forgets” to eat or sleep when they get focused on something.
- You’re checking your phone/social media constantly. You can’t rest because you feel you might be missing out on something.
- You begin using an activity to relieve anxiety or feel less stress instead of utilizing healthy coping mechanisms. Often drugs and alcohol are used to self-medicate or to control emotions such as depression or anger. These are poor coping mechanisms.
- You cannot control impulses. This person is often said to act before they think.
- You’re not good at setting personal boundaries or self-limitations. You don’t know when to stop.
- You’re an excessive risk-taker. The thrill makes you keep on regardless of the consequence.
- You never feel satisfied or always want more of something.
If you show several of these symptoms, you may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction.
Addiction vs. Compulsion
Both addiction and compulsion see a person doing something repeatedly, even to the point of harm, or despite it causing harm. In this way, the two are the same, and often the person who is prone to compulsions can find themselves easily becoming addicted. There is a significant difference, however. Addiction normally starts as a way to feel good. The activity releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Compulsions, however, don’t have the same feeling of fun, and the act is typically done to relieve pressure from anxiety with no pleasure involved.
In any case, reaching out for professional support will help you get to the bottom of your addictive behaviors so that you can get treatment and begin to heal, recover, and take back control of your life.
Find Help for Addiction at Red Oak Recovery®
At Red Oak Recovery®, we believe addictions don’t have to be something you must give into. Although you may have strong indicators of an addictive personality, you can learn to control your behavior and live without an addiction to drugs or alcohol. We offer a range of treatment options, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group therapy
- Experiential therapy
- Adventure therapy