In this post, we examine the addictive personality. The term ‘addictive personality’ is an umbrella term for a set of personality traits. These traits are known to predispose a person to addiction. This addiction may last a few weeks, months, years or even for a lifetime.
The term ‘addictive personality’ is largely an informal one. Having an addictive personality is by no means recognised by medical science. Nevertheless, we feel the term is still useful and may explain why some people are more likely to become addicted to substances or behaviours than others.
Whilst personality traits may explain why some people develop an addiction, it is by no means the only factor at play. For instance, genetics and the social environment may play a more significant role than personality traits when explaining why addiction has arisen in the first place. Some authorities claim that genetics increases the chances of addiction by as much as 70%.
What are these individual personality traits causing addiction?
There exist a number of personality traits that may explain why addiction arises. Some of these personality traits may encourage substance misuse, whilst other personality traits may encourage behavioural addiction.
Personality traits associated with substance misuse use include:
Impulsivity arises when a person takes action without fully assessing the risks arising from taking that action. Impulsivity is often described as being erratic or reckless. When an impulsive action is taken, the person who takes this action has little regard to the consequences to him or herself or others who might likewise be caught in the crossfire of this action.
Impulsivity may mean people are labelled as selfish or narcissistic since it will appear these people have little regard for the feelings of others.
Taking drugs or engaging in addictive behaviours causes a release of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for pleasure. Those of us who are predisposed to sensation-seeking are thus more likely to take drugs or engage in addictive behaviour in order to experience these valued sensations.
#3. Negative affect
Negative affect refers to negative emotions and our ability to process or perceive these negative emotions. These emotions include anger, fear, guilt and sadness. Those of us who are unable to process these emotions naturally may be likely to abuse drugs or engage in addictive behaviours in order to push these negative emotions beyond the scope of conscious awareness. This is known as ‘self-medicating’ negative emotions away.
Neuroticism is the propensity to experience negative emotions such as anger, fear, worry and anxiety. If you score highly on the Neuroticism scale, you are generally more likely to experience addiction in your lifetime.
Disagreeableness is used to describe negative social skills. People who exhibit this personality trait may be described as selfish and uncooperative. This may mean people with this personality trait are more likely to engage in addictive behaviours because although they may appreciate the negative consequences of doing so, they simply do not care enough about these consequences to stop them from engaging in such activities.
If I have these traits, does this mean I will develop an addiction?
The answer to this question is ‘probably not’. If you feel you exhibit the above personality traits, it’s still unlikely you will develop an addiction to drugs or certain negative behaviours such as gambling addiction. You should therefore not be too concerned about your personality traits, at least at this stage.
If you possess some or all the above personality traits, you typically must also be exposed to social cues and genetic traits in order for an addiction to arise. This is particularly the case if you have a strong support network and you’ve developed other competing personality traits and life skills that give you the strength to cope with your problems without resorting to addictive behaviours or substance misuse.
Knowing your treatment options
However, if you suffer from addiction and you feel your personality traits are a contributing factor, then know that treatment is available to help you overcome your addiction and to help you combat these personality traits so that you do not engage in addictive activities. By far the best treatment option takes place in an inpatient environment. To learn more about your treatment options, contact ADT Healthcare today on 0800 088 66 86.
Published on: Friday, July 21, 2017