Our personalities play a major role in our interests, our behaviour and how we approach life. But do they also influence whether or not we become addicted to something? Understanding the complexity of addiction causes and how our traits link to those can help us better understand the risks.
We have all heard the term “addictive personality,” often casually used as a way to explain why someone has an addiction. But what does that really mean? Can your personality cause you to become addicted to something?
Addiction is generally understood by experts to be a brain disorder, a chronic condition with complex risk factors that requires long-term management and care. Far different from previous beliefs about addiction as a lack of willpower or a personal failing, this approach has helped shift the focus of addiction treatment onto rebuilding the neuropathways in the brain and developing new healthy habits.
Evidence has not supported the idea that personality is a cause of addiction, making the idea of an “addictive personality” nothing more than a myth. However, some studies suggest that certain personality traits may be linked to an increased potential for substance abuse. Being aware of these traits and tendencies can help you make informed choices about how you approach risky behaviours.
What Personality Traits Might Be Linked to a Potential for Addiction?
While one’s overall personality does not drive addiction, there are certain traits that, when mixed with other risk factors, may increase the potential for addiction. These include traits such as:
Do you often act without thinking things through first? For example, you might blurt something out that you then immediately wish you hadn’t, or buy something expensive only to find yourself returning it later because you couldn’t really afford it. The immediate urge to act without considering the consequences can be problematic, particularly if you are engaging in something that’s potentially addictive. In fact, a study conducted in 2018 found that a tendency towards impulsive behaviour has been associated with an increased risk for addiction.
Some of us feel a persistent desire to experience all that life has to offer. Excited by a stimulation of the senses, sensation-seekers are always looking for new experiences that spark their body’s reaction to what’s around them. This could be anything from raucous concerts, to extreme sports, to regularly seeking out new people and relationships. It is possible for this trait to link to a tendency to experiment with drugs or other potentially addictive activity, particularly among men and young adults.
When you have anxiety as a personality trait, you tend to experience higher levels of stress. Any potentially negative outcomes weigh heavily on your mind, and you are acutely aware of your fears and worries. People with anxious personalities will often employ a variety of coping mechanisms to help manage their stress levels, and in the process may turn to potentially addictive behaviours in an attempt to relieve their anxiety.
There are those of us who thrive when challenging the norm, pushing the bounds of accepted social conventions and striving to pave a unique path forward. While this embrace of a life outside of the mainstream can be rewarding and interesting, it can also be isolating, particularly if you feel that you are not supported by those around you. The difficulty of feeling fundamentally different, and the lack of acceptance by others, may increase the potential for substance misuse in order to cope with these feelings.
Difficulty Accepting Blame
Some people inherently avoid blaming themselves for mistakes, to the point where there may be a problematic lack of accountability for their actions. This trait may be linked to a personality disorder, such as narcissistic personality disorder, or have developed in response to childhood neglect or abuse. This trait may increase the potential for denial of the risks of addiction, or a resistance to seeking treatment.
Low Tolerance for Stress
Stress affects everyone, but some are particularly affected by it, feeling overwhelmed by situations or work that may seem manageable to others. An argument with a friend or partner, a looming deadline, or just a bad day can feel absolutely awful, and spur people to seek relief. For those who turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, the potential for addiction may be a concern.
Seeing the Bigger Picture: Understanding Risk Factors for Addiction
Countless studies about addiction have been unable to determine a singular defining cause for this chronic condition. This is why simply having a personality trait that may be linked to a potential for addiction does not mean that someone will develop it. Addiction affects people of all different backgrounds, experiences, and personalities. Research has identified that it is usually a combination of several key factors that lead to an increased risk for addiction. Common risk factors include:
Studies have shown that for people growing up in a family where addiction is present, their risk of developing an addiction increases significantly. This can be related to genetics, as well as the influence of the environment on people’s habits and behaviours.
People who begin using substances in their earlier years often have a greater tendency towards addiction. While it is unclear as to whether this stems from the effects of drugs and alcohol on a developing brain, or may be a result of other environmental factors like an unstable home life, troubled peer group, or exposure to abuse, misusing substances as a young person substantially increases the risk of addiction.
Mental Health Conditions
People living with mental health conditions are often at increased risk for addiction as they may turn to substances or behaviours 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 bring relief and support for their condition.
For those who have experienced one or more of these factors, and who 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 to make lifestyle decisions based on this understanding.
Finding Help When You Need It: Addiction Treatment at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand understands that addiction is a complex disease that requires comprehensive, compassionate treatment. At our beautiful, relaxing residential facility, we work closely with each one of our clients to uncover the root causes of their addiction, understand triggers, and develop positive coping mechanisms to successfully handle life’s challenges and build a sustainable, lasting recovery.
Addiction Treatment in Thailand
The Dawn is located on a stunning riverside just outside of the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. A world away from the stressors and triggers of home, you’ll be able to fully relax and focus completely on your recovery, as well as reap the many other benefits of treatment at a rehab abroad.
Our experienced, international team will work closely with you to develop a personalised treatment plan that encompasses total healing of your mind and body. We purposely keep our client number to a maximum of 35 so that each one of our clients can receive the regular, careful attention they need during their recovery.
If you’re struggling with addiction, call The Dawn today to learn more about our programming and how we can help you get on the road to recovery.