While addiction can strike anyone, there are some people who are more predisposed than others to develop an addiction to substances, gambling, the Internet, and other outlets. Some experts believe that these people have what they call an addictive personality. Although there is not one specific type of personality that is more prone to addiction, there are several personality traits that are common among people with addiction.
In this article, we take a look at some of the traits that make up an ‘addictive personality’.
High Stress and Anxiety
People struggling with addiction often suffer from high stress and anxiety, making that a trait of an addictive personality. If you tend to have a lot of stress and anxiety, you might be prone to an addiction.
Why? Part of the reason is that you will likely want to seek out coping mechanisms for your anxiety levels. Unfortunately, many coping mechanisms that people tend to seek out are unhealthy. For example, drinking alcohol can take the edge off, but it can also lead to an addiction. Gambling might also make you feel better temporarily. Since these distractions aren’t long-term, they don’t actually teach you healthy ways of managing your stress.
If you find that you are often riddled with anxiety, it’s best to look for healthy ways to cope. A healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and seeking professional care can all help. In addition, learning some relaxation techniques can help you de-stress without turning to vices that could turn into an addiction. These include:
- progressive muscle relaxation
Difficulty With Commitment
People who have difficulty sticking to their commitments might find themselves mired in addiction. For example, you might find that you hop from job to job, never finding one that exactly meets your needs and desires. You might have a string of romantic relationships or friendships that have gone downhill after a certain period of time. It might be that you try hobbies for only a short period of time before dropping it and going after something else. While a certain amount of trying different thing is to be expected and even encouraged, if it’s a constant pattern, you might be at risk of developing an addiction.
Along with a difficulty sticking to commitments often come other types of impulsive behaviors. The common thread might be a sense of sensation-seeking; many people have a thirst for adventure, but if you have that as well as a tendency to be impulsive, you might be at risk for trying drugs or alcohol or otherwise jumping headfirst into new (but dangerous) experiences.
For many people who seek sensations and adventure, activities like traveling to exotic places and even trying new foods can be enough to quench the feeling that they need to experience something new. Others, however, look for that adrenaline rush and “high” in riskier ways. If you know that you tend to get bored easily and that you jump into new experiences without giving it a lot of thought, be mindful of it and look for ways to meet that need that won’t result in a dangerous addiction.
The Tendency to Lie
For some people, lies slip easily off of the tongue. This trait could be a sign of an addictive personality. People who struggle with addictions often find it easy to cover up where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing; they’re practiced enough that other people might not even suspect that they’re not being told the truth. This is not to say that every person with an addiction is a good liar or that everyone who bends the truth will succumb to an addiction. It just means that if you know that you’re a good actor, it’s important to examine whether you’re hiding any activities from others because you know they’re harmful.
Another trait of an addictive personality is social alienation. People who develop addictions often find it hard to connect with other people. They might not have any close friends or they might jump from friend group to friend group, never really making any deep connections. Turning to a behavior or substance that they become addicted to could be a way of filling a void. Because some people bond through a shared addiction, it could even be a way to get that contact that they’re looking for.
If you find that you have a hard time relating to others, look for ways to engage people without turning to harmful behaviors. For example, consider volunteering or joining a community group. If you have social anxiety that is preventing you from reaching out to others, seek help for that; counseling can make a difference and equip you with the social skills necessary to create friendships.
Another Mental Health Disorder
Addictions often occur in the presence of other mental health disorders. Whether the addiction comes first or the co-occurring disorder is the catalyst remains a mystery (and it likely differs from person to person). If you are affected by depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or some other mental health condition, be aware that you might be at an increased risk of developing an addiction.
If this is the case, seek treatment for the mental health disorder that you already know you have. Various treatments are available, from therapy to medication, and if you can get your condition under control, you might be less likely to develop an addiction as a co-occurring disorder.
It helps to keep in mind that no one factor points to the likelihood of developing an addiction. If you notice that you have one or more of these traits of an addictive personality, you can take steps to reduce the chances that you will develop an addiction. Just being aware that an issue might exist is an important factor; if you know that you might be predisposed to a particular condition, you will likely take the steps needed to avoid it. Also, if you see that you are in the early stages of an addiction, you can seek help promptly. If you are currently struggling with an addiction, seek help by making an appointment with your primary care physician or a mental health counselor. From there, you might be referred to an addiction specialist.