7 Signs You Might Have an Addictive Personality
“Addictive personality” – you’ve no doubt heard the phrase because it sure gets tossed around quite a lot these days. Basically, it usually suggests that while most folks can have a drink, enjoy the occasional splurge, purchase a lottery ticket, do some sports betting, or experiment with drugs without getting hooked, for others, it’s a slippery slope. Allegedly, those people’s brains are wired differently, causing them to be more susceptible to addiction. But how exactly do you know whether you might have an addictive personality? Today, Allan J. Katz, a licensed Professional Counselor (LPC/MHSP) and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, dives in a little deeper.
What are the traits of an addictive personality?
When people are worried about developing an addiction, it’s only natural for them to try to learn what the traits of an addictive personality might be. Knowing what to watch for could help you absolve yourself of the “addict” label or ensure you never put yourself at risk in the first place.
But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The thing is that this whole idea is founded on a blend of fact and fiction. Lacking consensus or scientific evidence that might confirm its existence, the concept itself is quite controversial, laden with stigma, poorly understood, and very easy to misuse. An addictive personality isn’t an actual and formal diagnosis with a list of symptoms. In other words, there’s no cookie-cutter “type” of person more prone to develop addictive or compulsive behaviors. At least, there’s no proof of it.
Is there any truth to the idea?
Personalities are very complex, and there is no singular pathway to addiction. So, there isn’t one specific type more prone to addiction than others. The research is, in fact, still ongoing. But we’ve done some digging! And it’s true that certain factors, although purported, may increase the likelihood of someone becoming addicted.
Here’s what we know!
Signs you might have an addictive personality
1. Genetic makeup
Although the identification of susceptibility genes has been slow, some scientific studies have implicated that genetic makeup accounts for at least 50% of a person’s susceptibility to addiction. You may have heard someone before talking about how their parents were struggling with addiction, and that’s why they’ve fallen prey, too. And according to the stats, there is some merit to these claims. Research confirms that children of drug-addicted parents are eight times more likely to develop an addiction. What’s more, growing up in a home with a parent or a close family member with a mental illness can also make it more likely that an individual will become an addict.
2. Excessive risk-taking or impulsiveness
Another personality cluster that seems to increase the likelihood of developing an addiction is risk-taking or impulsiveness. Individuals who have trouble controlling their impulses around experimenting and playing with new experiences and who aren’t afraid to push life to its limits are more likely to try alcohol or drugs or relapse after treatment.
We all have poor judgment at times. But if you regularly engage in this type of behavior, you might have an addictive personality. Research shows that this has a lot to do with the individual’s plastic brain’s sensitivity to high levels of dopamine. Such an individual may have lower sensitivity to its effects, meaning they require more intense experiences to get that burst. The brain quickly connects the dots between a certain action and feeling good, and this may eventually lead to addiction.
3. Obsessive, compulsive behavior
A person who is too rigid in managing their impulses and focuses and thrives on routine is just as likely to develop an addiction as someone who lacks impulse control. People often react by trying to break their obsessive-compulsive behavior pattern. The problem is that they rely on drugs or alcohol to reduce those urges. This addiction becomes a habit over time, another part of their obsessive-compulsive issues rather than a single impulse to try something new.
4. Mental health disorders
Multiple studies have demonstrated a strong connection between pre-existing mental health conditions and problems with addiction. If you are struggling with a mood disorder, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, or antisocial personality disorder, you are more likely to abuse and become dependent on substances. It’s an effort to mask and cope with the underlying issues of your mental well-being. It’s a phenomenon known as self-medication that ends up reinforcing addiction.
It usually starts with one lie. Then, the user begins building on each lie. The deeper they become ensnared in their addiction, the blurrier this line between the exaggerated truth and the simple one becomes. It’s never easy to accept that you may struggle with an addictive personality disorder and addiction. So, eventually, the lies become truths to you. And, instead of accepting, dealing with, and explaining your addiction to a loved one, you start to lie to everyone around you as well. It’s a tough pattern to break, which can worsen the situation since open communication is key to starting your healing process.
6. Manipulative behavior
Yes, lying and addiction go hand-in-hand. However, lying is only one part of the overall manipulative behavior that someone who has an addictive personality disorder may exhibit. Their intense need for that euphoric feeling may take top priority over everything else in that person’s life, whether it be family, friends, or romantic partners. In consequence, an addict will say or do things out of the ordinary to fulfill this addictive itch, regardless of the fact that they may end up hurting themselves or someone they love. For instance, someone with a sexual addiction is often unable to remain loyal to their partner. This usually results in them gaslighting their partners and making them second-guess their version of reality.
7. Inability to “self-regulate”
Finally, the lack of self-control and the inability to maintain a balance in your life and regulate your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts is yet another sign you might have an addictive personality. Failures to rise above negative moods, temptations, or resource depletion further undermine one’s self-regulation. Soon enough, this person feels no need to keep themselves in check. They start pushing this lack of self-control over the edge, which can then develop into an addiction.
Ready to get help?
From alcohol and drugs to gambling, shopping, and porn, addiction is a real problem affecting millions of people. If you believe that you might have an addictive personality or someone you love is struggling with these issues, it’s comforting to know that it can be managed with professional care. Help is out there, and relief is possible – you just need to speak up and seek support. The longer you wait, the more challenging it can become.
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