Having a family history of heart problems does not necessarily mean that you will immediately enter cardiac arrest. In the same way, having an addictive personality is not the same thing as being an addict. Of course, those with a family history of addiction and with an addictive personality may need to be more careful than others. You have most likely heard of an addictive personality, and may have even been told in the past that your behavior fits the bill. More than anything, we want you to know this: showing the signs of an addictive personality does not mean that you are doomed forever. Personality, family history and genes all play a major role in predicting addiction. But that is not the same thing as causing drug dependence in an addict.
An Addictive Personality: Knowing What to Look For
Before a substance use disorder takes hold, every individual has the ability to make decisions. If you think you may have an addictive personality, it is important to learn the tools to make the right decisions. It is not overstating the issue to say that this may just save your life.
Your Questions About Addictive Personalities: Answered
To get to the bottom of what it means to have an addictive personality, we address all of what are most likely your most pressing questions:
- How can I tell if I have an addictive personality?
- How does having an addictive personality affect relationships?
- What is the difference between an addictive personality and being an addict?
- How do I deal with an addictive personality?
- Is there a treatment for an addictive personality?
- Why am I attracted to addictive personalities?
- What if I’m married to someone with an addictive personality?
- What do I do if my boyfriend or husband has an addictive personality?
- Is there an addictive personality disorder test?
- Does having an addictive personality mean I am doomed to addiction?
- Is there an addictive personality treatment?
At least 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. You don’t have to be one of them.
What is an Addictive Personality?
Before diving into the impact of an addictive personality, it is crucial to establish what causes an addictive personality – and what this looks like in individuals. If you Google ‘addictive personality test’ you will see a whole set of quizzes. But the truth is there is no scientific addictive personality disorder test. In fact, there is no such thing as an addictive personality disorder. These kinds of addictive personality tests are not helpful for a diagnosis, because there is no official psychiatric diagnosis for an addictive personality.
“Addictive personality is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis. Personalities are very complex, and while there’s not one specific type that’s more prone to addiction than others, there are several factors that can combine to make you more likely to become addicted.”
~ Dr. Michael Weaver, Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction
The Truth About Addictive Personalities
The underlying point here is that an addictive personality is not something that exists on its own. In other words, scientists have never found that people who struggle with addiction all have the same personality type – or even the same range of personality types. With this in mind, we only use the term ‘addictive personality’ here to make the discussion simpler. If there is no personality trait that predicts addiction, what is an addictive personality and what causes an addictive personality?
What Causes an Addictive Personality?
You may have come here looking for a specific list of symptoms of an addictive personality. There really is no such list – personality is complicated, and plays only a small part in substance abuse and addiction. When people talk about an addictive personality, they may instead be talking about the role of genes in predicting addiction. Even if there is no such thing as an addictive personality, there is a significant biological element of addiction. It is widely accepted that there is a genetic aspect of addiction. This means that if you have a parent or even extended family member who has struggled with addiction, you are more likely to develop addiction as well. Scientists have determined that genes passed on from relatives are responsible for around half of the likelihood of you developing an addiction.
The Symptoms of an Addictive Personality
In addition to the impact of genes, there are some warning signs that you may be prone to addiction. These are not symptoms of an addictive personality so much as they are signs that addiction may be forming. Some of these signs include:
- Lying about your substance use
- Manipulating others to get drugs or alcohol
- Acting impulsively
- Engaging in criminal behavior as a result of using drugs or drinking alcohol
- Shifting blame for your personal problems to others
- Constantly experimenting with new substances or experiences, seeking out new sensations or adrenaline
- The inability to quit using drugs or drinking alcohol, even after this use begins to cause interpersonal problems at work or at home
The Difference Between an Addictive Personality and Addiction
More than anything, it is important to know that having an addictive personality or a family history of addiction does not automatically mean that you will turn into an addict yourself. That said, having an addictive personality could be a precursor to addiction. If you know that a family member has struggled with substance abuse, it is a good idea to watch your own relationship with alcohol and drugs. Similarly, if you begin to see yourself abusing substances it is better to just quit using them altogether. It is not easy to answer exactly what causes an addictive personality – but if you find that you are prone to addiction, you can successfully equip yourself to avoid the consequences of addiction.
The Role of an Addictive Personality in Relationships
Dealing with the heavy topic of addiction becomes even more crucial when you take into consideration the effect that addiction can have on even the closest of relationships. These relationships can be:
- A boyfriend that has an addictive personality
- A husband with an addictive personality
- Any individual married to someone with an addictive personality
- A brother or sister with an addictive personality
- A child with an addictive personality
- Any family member with an addictive personality
Someone who has some of the personality traits associated with addiction will most likely experience some issues in their relationships – especially with those closest to them.
Trends of Addiction in Relationships
If your boyfriend has an addictive personality, or you think you have a husband with an addictive personality, you may see some of the following trends:
- Trust issues: It may be difficult to establish trust with your loved one. Sometimes this is due to past traumatic experiences – which is also a precursor to addiction.
- Conflict issues: Every couple fights, but someone who struggles with the possibility of addiction may bring more conflict to their relationships. This has a lot to do with their feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or low self-esteem.
- People-pleasing issues: Instead of staying true to themselves, someone with a tendency toward addiction may compulsively focus on the needs, wants and opinions of others. Over time, this can be damaging to relationships.
These trends of an addictive personality in relationships are not necessarily signs of an addictive personality, especially since it is impossible to nail down an exact definition of an addictive personality. But these trends do often act as a precursor to addiction or substance abuse. Addiction itself has more of a negative effect on relationships. Because of this, it is crucial to watch for signs of addiction in your partner, husband, wife, child or loved one.
Recognizing the Extremes of Addiction
In her new addictive personality book, Maia Szalavitz connects her own experience with addiction to the science behind drug dependence and addiction. In her research and personal experience, Szalavitz acknowledges that, while there may not be a single addictive personality, there are some personality traits that can predict addiction.
“Although people with addictions or potential addicts cannot be identified by a specific collection of personality traits, it is often possible to tell quite early on which children are at high risk. It is extremes of personality and temperament that elevates risk.”
~ Maia Szalavitz in her book on addictive personality
Dealing With an Addictive Personality
In other words, individuals with extreme personality traits on either end of the spectrum may be at a higher risk of addiction. This includes both impulsive and compulsive people, antisocial and gregarious people, risk-takers and risk-averse people. With this description in mind, it seems the best insight into how to deal with an addictive personality is to account for these extremes. Instead of responding in kind, take a step back and try to deescalate what is going on. This could help someone with an addictive tendency to reexamine the way they respond to things. This insight from the addictive personality book may also help answer the question, ‘Why am I attracted to addictive personalities?’ By their very definition, those who tend to turn to addiction lie on the extreme end of the social and personality spectrum. They may be fun to be around, excitable and enigmatic. All of that is before the dangerous pull of drugs or alcohol takes hold.
The Takeaway: Having an Addictive Personality Does Not Mean You Are Doomed Forever
We will say it again: having some of the personality traits outlined above does not mean that you have an addictive personality. And it definitely does not mean that you are doomed to addiction forever. Instead of seeing these traits as a prescription of what addiction looks like, you should take them as a kind of warning sign against the possibility of addiction. There are options for when you have an addictive personality or are concerned that you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. There is no addictive personality treatment, simply because there is no such thing as an addictive personality – at least form a clinical psychology standpoint.
Moving Forward: Addressing an Addictive Personality
Instead of seeking treatment, all you need to know about how to deal with an addictive personality is to manage your own temperament, attitudes, and choices. This is doubly true when talking about the role of addictive personality in relationships. Doing this can mean the difference between having some personality traits that are precursors to addiction and struggling with addiction itself. Even if there is no addictive personality treatment, you can look for addictive personality symptoms and learn to address these warning signs head-on. If you have more questions about what it means to be an addict, feel free to contact us today.