Many believe that some people are more prone to addiction than others. You’ve likely heard the term “addictive personality,” but do you know what it actually means?
This phrase is often tossed around without too much thinking. And like many such theories, the concept of addictive personalities is incredibly controversial. So far, no valid research has confirmed that our personality traits may enhance the risk of developing an addiction.
The nature of addiction is much more complex than that, and viewing addiction as a part of someone’s personality can be extremely harmful. On the other hand, certain traits are heavily associated with addiction, indicating a link between our personality traits and substance abuse or addictive behaviors.
And while they may not necessarily lead to developing an addiction, keeping an eye on them may help one make more informed choices to prevent engaging in potentially harmful behaviors.
What personality traits should you be aware of? What are the risk factors associated with addictions? And when to know it’s time to seek professional help?
We’ll answer these and more burning questions in the following guide.
What Is an Addictive Personality?
The term “addictive personality” describes a personality type that is more prone to developing an addiction. The concept is based on the belief that some people find it harder to resist developing addictions than others and that addictive habits are part of their personality.
As mentioned, no reputable study confirms that theory. Addiction is not a personality type. It’s a disease that a person may develop through engaging in certain behaviors. And these can be affected by our personality traits.
For instance, it’s not uncommon for people with addictions to express the following personality traits:
- Frequent mood swings
- Poor coping skills
- Low self-esteem
- Social withdrawal or insolation
- Thrill-sensation-seeking and frequent risk-taking
However, to say that these traits can directly impact people to develop addictions is considered ridiculous by established medical journals. Just because you’re an impulsive person doesn’t mean you’re more at risk of developing, for example, an alcohol addiction.
The Harmful Impact of the Addictive Personalities Theory
It’s impossible to bring down addiction to a mere personality type. The risk factors of addiction are much more profound, and treating it as a part of a person’s personality is incredibly harmful and may result in:
- People underestimate their risks. Even if you don’t express any supposed addictive personality traits, it doesn’t mean you can’t become addicted. Unfortunately, that’s what many people believe due to the addictive personality theory.
- Reduced motivation to change. If you have an addictive personality, what’s the point of battling your addiction? It sounds absurd, but unfortunately, that’s what many people think, reducing their motivation to battle their demons. Remember, there’s always a way to regain control over your life, and here at The Dawn, we know that better than anyone.
- Negative stereotypes and stigmatization. The term “addictive personality” can stigmatize people who, in theory, express such personality types, causing them to think that they possess negative traits and habits, decreasing their self-esteem.
Seeing the Bigger Picture: Understanding Addiction Risk Factors
If not personality type, what causes people to develop addictions? Several factors may contribute to a person’s increased risk of developing a substance or behavioral addiction.
Family History & Genetics
Several studies have confirmed a direct link between addiction and genetic factors. The same goes for family history. For instance, if there have been several cases of substance use disorder within your family, you may be at a higher risk of struggling with addictive substances or behaviors yourself.
Furthermore, some traits, such as impulsivity or risk-taking, can also be inherited, enhancing the chances of a person engaging in potentially addictive habits. For example, if you like to take risks, it’s possible to develop a gambling addiction, as your mind requires a higher dose of adrenaline to function.
However, the mere fact that you may have a family history of addictions or that you’ve inherited potentially addictive traits from your family members doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop an addiction.
The sooner you start using certain substances, be it alcohol or drugs, or engaging in such behaviors as gambling or using the internet, the higher the chances of developing an addiction.
That’s because early use of addictive substances and habits affects brain development. If your brain connects various behaviors and substances as positive triggers, it will impact how it works and may lead to you developing an addiction.
Environmental factors and triggers can contribute to a person developing an addiction. These typically include poverty, trauma, and easy access to drugs or other substances. Lifestyle factors, such as frequently engaging in gambling, gaming, or risky habits, may also enhance the risk of becoming addicted.
Mental Health Conditions
People with mental health conditions are often at increased risk for addiction as they may turn to substances or behaviors that help them cope with the discomfort of their symptoms. This is especially true for those whose conditions are undiagnosed or untreated, as they may not have access to the specific treatment methods necessary to relieve and support their condition.
For those who have experienced one or more of these factors and may have personality traits that could be connected to a potential for addiction, it is important to be aware of how this combination could increase the risk for addiction and make lifestyle decisions based on this understanding.
Common mental disorders that may increase the risk of developing an addiction include:
Addictive Personality Traits vs. Addictive Behaviors
If you worry that you might be at a higher risk of developing an addiction, pay attention to the habits and behaviors you engage in instead of focusing on your personality traits. Namely:
- Using drugs and alcohol to socialize – while having a beer or glass of wine with friends doesn’t indicate a person has a substance addiction, engaging in such habits frequently can eventually lead to alcohol or drug abuse and soon become the only way for a person to socialize.
- Comfort eating – people often eat to make themselves feel better when they are disappointed or stressed. If that becomes a habit, a person can quickly engage in binge eating and develop a food addiction.
- Using sex to replace intimacy – people with sex addiction often develop their disorder due to problems with intimacy, treating sex as a defensive mechanism, and constantly seeking arousal and gratification instead of focusing on other people’s feelings.
- Self-medicating with drugs – people with trauma, anxiety, or insomnia often tend to opt for self-treatment rather than seek help from a mental health professional. Such behavior can quickly lead to drug abuse and, eventually, drug addiction.
- Using addictive substances and behaviors to cope with negative emotions – many people can’t cope with negative emotions and thoughts in other ways than engaging in addictive behaviors or using drugs or alcohol. Such behaviors can quickly become destructive, leading to substance abuse and addiction.
How to Avoid Risky Addictive Behaviors?
Any potentially addictive behavior can quickly develop into a severe issue. That is why it’s vital to quickly notice and eliminate possibly disruptive habits from your life. This can be difficult but not impossible.
For instance, if you worry that you may be drinking too much or notice that alcohol has become a vital factor for you and your friends to socialize, quit such behavior and instead try to connect and socialize with your loved ones through shared interests and fun activities.
Try to replace any dangerous coping mechanisms, such as using drugs or gambling, with exercise and other activities that you find enjoyable and pleasurable. You can also learn relaxation techniques that can help manage your stress and overwhelming thoughts.
Finally, if you worry that your mental illness might push you toward addiction, seek help from a mental health professional to learn more about the factors behind your disorder and establish an effective treatment process.
When to Seek Professional Help with Addiction?
While it’s possible to prevent yourself from the terrible consequences of engaging in addictive habits and behaviors, if you don’t notice and eliminate them from your life in time, it might become too late to do it yourself.
In other words, when underestimated, such behaviors will quickly become a fully-fledged addiction. If that happens, the only way out is to seek professional rehab. But when do you know you need to seek help? If you suspect you or your loved one might have developed an addiction, pay attention to the following factors:
- Your addiction impacts your personal and professional life, disrupting your family and social relations and preventing you from performing your work;
- You use a substance or engage in addictive habits despite trying to stop;
- You start experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms;
- Your tolerance for substance effects increases;
- You experience constant cravings toward a substance or behavior;
- You put yourself in risky situations or engage in illegal activities to feed your addiction.
If any of these symptoms look familiar, it means you’ve likely developed an addiction. If you worry it might be the case, seeking professional help is imperative. And here’s where we can help…
How The Dawn Can Help
As the #1 rehab & wellness center in Thailand, The Dawn is the leading destination among Western patients seeking a professional and effective solution for their addiction and mental health struggles.
At The Dawn, we understand that every patient is different and requires an individual approach to addiction treatment and rehabilitation. Our treatment programs take advantage of the Twin Pillars Approach, combining the Western, evidence-based treatment with the Eastern holistic approach.
Furthermore, during their stay at our boutique facility in Chiang Mai, Thailand, our patients have access to numerous amenities, such as a swimming pool, yoga studio, and 24/7 support from our medical staff, which consists of industry-leading professionals.
We provide treatment and rehabilitation programs for various conditions, including alcohol addiction, drug addiction (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, ice, and heroin addiction), and behavioral addiction (e.g., gambling, sex, and internet addiction).
We also help our patients treat various mental health conditions that often co-occur with addictive habits, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and insomnia.
All this is for a fraction of the costs the Western facilities charge and away from triggers that may cause relapse.
It’s a popular belief that some people have addictive personalities that make them more prone to developing addictions. However, as covered throughout this article, your personality type has nothing to do with you being “doomed” to develop a substance or behavioral addiction.
The addiction risk is dependent on more substantial factors than mere personality traits. The increased risk of developing an addiction has been linked to such factors as genetics, family history, environmental factors, and mental health.
Also, remember that while these factors may contribute to the risk of becoming addicted, they don’t have to lead to addiction. However, if you worry that you may be more prone to addiction, keep an eye on your potentially disruptive addictive habits and behaviors.
And if you notice that it might be too late to act on them yourself, remember that addiction is treatable. Contact The Dawn today and regain control over your life.