Someone who is worried about developing an addiction may be inclined to find traits of an addictive personality. Finding out these traits may allow the person to rid themselves of the title of being affected by a disease. However, they may just want to know what to keep in mind and what red flags there may be.
There is already a large amount of stigma that surrounds addiction, and the addictive personality is no different. There is some truth to this, but some falsehoods as well that should be addressed.
Addictive Personality is a Myth
There is no generic addictive personality. Each individual is unique and the idea that there is no one singular addictive personality could be dangerous to those who need to seek treatment. There is no singular personality type a person could have that could lead them towards or away from addiction.
All personality types could be affected by addiction and knowing this helps to promote treatment. There are certain traits and factors that could lead someone to addiction, but these are not present in every single person with an addiction.
The Truth About Addictive Personalities
There are certain traits that someone could have that could lead them to have a higher risk of developing an addiction, as well as certain factors that may or may not be able to be controlled. There isn’t one singular form of an addictive personality
Having other underlying health disorders can predispose you to having a higher risk of addiction. If you are known for being more of a risk-taker, you may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Someone who has compulsive, impulsive, or obsessive tendencies may be more at risk.
People who demonstrate having these traits or factors could have a higher risk than the general population at becoming addicted to substances.
A Family Member with an Addiction
Having a family member that has or is struggling with addiction can directly impact your risk of developing an addiction. The human genome has been studied immensely in regard to addiction. Studies show that a person’s risk of developing an addiction relies almost fifty percent on their genetics.
Nature versus nurture is a hot topic within the field of psychology. However, both nature (genes) and nurture (environment) could affect an individual’s risk of becoming addicted. If you were exposed to a loved one using and abusing drugs, this could have a significant impact on you, their actions could have inflicted unresolved trauma.
Someone raised where drug abuse happened frequently and wasn’t regarded as a negative thing could have skewed norms on what safe habits are. On the flip side, those communities that offer safe after-school activities and education on drug abuse have a lower rate of those struggling with addiction.
Underlying Health Disorders
Those struggling with mental health disorders have a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a clear connection between mental health disorders and addiction.
A big issue in the mental health community is that often people suffering from a mental health disorder will try to self-medicate themselves. This dangerous thinking can be very harmful to someone’s body. Some examples are:
- Someone who is depressed that takes cocaine to give them a boost of energy.
- Someone who has a social anxiety disorder who drinks whenever they need to leave their home.
This is why people who struggle with mental health disorders are more likely to develop an addiction to substances. They use these substances as a coping mechanism. The most common disorders that are correlated to addiction are below.
- Depression or other mood disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder
Those who suffer from compulsions, may not suffer from an addiction. However, if compulsions are not properly treated, this can lead to an addiction. Someone with compulsive tendencies will carry out a specific action or behavior to stop their persistent thoughts about doing it. They feel strong, unsettling urges to do certain things.
However, with an addiction, a person is compelled because of the brain’s reward of dopamine. This is not the case with plain compulsive tendencies, but these tendencies can lead an individual into an addiction. Their drive to fulfill these actions puts them at a higher risk than someone who does not have these persistent thoughts.
OCD & Addiction
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is one of the most commonly dual-diagnosed disorders alongside addiction. Obsessions from OCD can leave someone feeling nervous and exhausted. Although OCD sufferers can form an addiction to any substance, one of the most common is alcohol.
This is because alcohol depresses your bodily functions. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol may be trying to manage the symptoms associated with OCD. Self-medicating is never safe, and you should always talk to a medical professional when deciding on what medications will help treat your symptoms.
If someone is more adventurous or risk-taking, they may have trouble regulating their specific impulses. Research has shown that men are more physical risk takers and women take more social risks. People may venture past what feels safe and push the limits to try to achieve a rewarding experience.
Risk-taking behavior can often lead to a rush of adrenaline. This experience is what makes roller-coasters and watching scary movies so much fun for some people. An adrenaline rush happens when your adrenal glands release cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) into the bloodstream.
It might sound like a bad thing, and sometimes it is, but an adrenaline rush also allows your body to have a heightened state of alertness. This positive side of risk-taking behavior could propel someone to keep engaging in dangerous situations.
It is important to talk to a medical professional if you feel you or a loved one has a risk of developing or has developed, an addiction. It is never advised to try to self-medicate, as this can escalate the issue and do more harm than good. Addiction treatment is available, contact us if you feel like you of a loved one needs help.