Addiction and Addictive Personality


Addictive personalities are classified as elements of one’s character that predisposes to substance abuse and behavioral compulsions. Traits of addictive personalities can put someone at risk for developing an addiction.

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What Is an Addictive Personality?

Addictive Personality Can Impact the Development of an AddictionAn addictive personality is a personality that is more likely to become addicted to something. This can include someone becoming extremely passionate about something and developing an obsession or fixation. The underlying factors for getting carried away and overindulging in video games, food, sex, or drugs and stem from hidden anxiety, depression, and poor impulse control.

Some of these behaviors can be an attempt to heal unrealized or repressed emotions. At first glance, being addicted to a video game or food can seem harmless, especially when compared to substance abuse disorders. The problem is the object of addiction can change. This means someone can have a phase of being addicted to video games, then transition into other objects–or substances–of abuse.

Signs of an Addictive Personality

Individuals with an addictive personality can be identified by several traits. In some cases, experiencing mental conditions like depression and anxiety can, but do not always, indicate addictive personalities. However, there are a number of better indicators of addictive personalities, including:

  • Comfort eating/binge eating
  • Using alcohol to socialize or relax
  • Checking one’s phone or social media too much
  • Replacing sexual partners for a false sense of intimacy
  • Impulse buys/excessive shopping
  • Gambling
  • Obsessing
  • Excessive risk taking
  • Drug use for coping
  • Never feeling satisfied/needing more of a particular feeling or
  • An inability to stop using harmful chemicals
  • An inability to curtail other harmful activities

Being able to stop and control one’s actions mark healthy boundaries and a lower level of attachment. If you or someone you know hides their harmful behavior, that could signal a problem needing intervention.

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The Genetics of An Addictive Personality

Much research is being done on the medical diagnosis of “addictive personality” as “personalities are complex.” Research has discovered a link between genetics and someone’s ability to have an addictive personality. Those born to parents who have been addicted to a substance, or exhibited a behavioral addiction, are more likely to exhibit addictive personalities.

Additionally, individuals born to parents who have suffered anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder can be predisposed to having an addictive personality. Genetics are not the sole indicator of addictive personalities; however, they can be a great influence on someone’s personality traits.

Impulse Control and the Addictive Personality

Other factors include one’s personal interests. Another indicator of an addictive personality includes the need for stimulation. Someone who is restless and is in need of constant excitement may develop characteristics of an addictive personality. In the case of impulsivity, or rapid unplanned behavior with “little forethought of consequences,” it can impact decision making abilities, and if combined with poor coping mechanisms, can reveal the onset of addictive behaviors. Poor impulse control can also invite the need for variety and poor impulse control, influencing someone to seek out new habits.

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Addictions, Compulsions and the Addictive Personality

There are vital differences between compulsions and addictions; however, both can be influenced by the same underlying causes.  For example, someone with an alcohol addiction may be trying to fill a void or temper anxiety. Someone with a compulsion may have underlying feelings of anxiety but may not have addictions or abuse substances.

The main differences between addictions and compulsions are pleasure-seeking ways and the lack of pleasure. Addictions often include and are motivated by pleasure (at least initially), while compulsions often lack pleasure. Someone who feeds their craving for an addictive substance is rewarded by dopamine, a chemical released once the brain is rewarded. Once this becomes a habit, he or she is now chasing a reward, which can be extremely difficult to stop.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse issues, the time to seek help is now. This is especially true when an addictive personality is involved, as any issues are likely to become worse over time, and possibly even replaced by addictions to stronger and more dangerous substances or behaviors. Contact a treatment provider today to find out what your treatment options are.

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