Addictive Personality, and How It Contributes to Addiction
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The idea of an addictive personality is that a specific set of personality traits predispose an individual to developing an addiction. The idea of a predisposition to addiction also assumes that there are commonalities among people with various addictions, which in turn relates to personality traits.
Addictive Personality: Are some people more likely to become addicts?
Some experts believe that people may be predisposed to developing addictive behavior due to factors such as genetics, mental illness, and even gender. Some even claim that all self-destructive actions are due to addiction. Addictive substances activate the reward system in a user’s brain, and the brain wants to repeat the behaviors in order to trigger the reward.
There are two main theories as to why addiction can occur:
- Learning theory suggests that the brain learns what to do to based on what makes the body feel good.
- Disease theory is based on a one’s vulnerability to becoming an addict.
Addicts have a tendency to hide their problematic behavior from their loved because they are ashamed of it. Nevertheless, addicts continue to abuse the substance that has become their obsession. As a result of this habit, addicts may experience depression and aggressive behavior. Furthermore, they become unable to control their compulsive demeanor and deny that there is a problem which needs to be addressed.
What are personality traits of addicts?
Common personality traits among addicts include the following:
- Love of excitement
- Feeling of urgency to increase their dose to achieve the same “high.”
- Tendency to lie and manipulate—promises are not kept
- Feel like quitting is impossible
- Engaging in a criminal activity
- Blaming others for their failures—external locus of control
- Abusive behavior
Addictive Personality: Types of Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse are the most common types of addiction. When we hear the word addict, the first thing that comes to mind is a type of psychoactive substance.
However, addictions can come in many shapes and sizes, some of which include:
- Cell phone
What are common risk factors for addiction?
Addicts share a number of risk factors. Addicts are usually under a lot of stress and have major self-esteem issues. They cannot delay gratification and therefore act impulsively. A situation of that nature can be very dangerous for the people around them. Addicts may have a depressed and antisocial demeanor, along with health-related and other social issues.
Are there certain risk factors that can cause a person to become an addict? The answer to this question is unclear; however, one of the most common factors supporting this idea is the history of addictive behavior in one’s family. Furthermore, environmental factors should not be ignored, especially if the individual lives in a community where drugs are very common.
A person’s psychology can also be a risk factor for addictive behavior; one’s personality traits and history of a mental illness, for example.
Despite many common traits, there is not enough evidence to support the theory of an addictive personality. Consequently, experts cannot agree whether addictive personality disorder exists and is diagnosable. What seems undeniable, however, is that addicts do have some similar behaviors and risk factors.
Addicts all show signs of drug-seeking behavior, they tend to manipulate and lie to their loved ones, and they are not able to quit without professional help.
- Mitchell M. R., Potenza M. N. Addictions and Personality Traits: Impulsivity and Related Constructs. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports. 2014; 1(1): 1–12. doi:10.1007/s40473-013-0001-y. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996683/.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. Real Teens Ask: Is Addiction Hereditary? 2011. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary.
- Alaghemandan H., Ghaffari Darab M., Khorasani E., Namazi E., Maniyan M. H., Barati M. Personality Traits and Their Relationship to Demographic Features in Addicts Referring to a Drug Rehabilitation Center in the City of Isfahan, Iran. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2015; 44(4): 551–560. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441968/.
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