“For our purposes, think of the Addictive Personality not as something you either have or don’t have, but rather as a continuum… The question is not whether we are healthy or unhealthy, but rather, where we are on the continuum… This approach puts the emphasis on recognizing how the belief system of the Addictive Personality keeps us, to varying degrees, from having the full and rich life we want and can claim.”
~ Dr. Lee Jampolsky, Healing the Addictive Personality: Freeing Yourself from Addictive Patterns and Relationships
Addiction is a complicated, highly individualized disease for which there are multiple possible predictive and influential factors, but no one single identifiable cause.
Genetics, family history, social environment, co-occurring mental disorders, traumatic experiences, and even the particular abused substance of choice can all play a role in determining whether or not a person develops an addiction, but no factor is definitive.
What is Addiction?
No one uses drugs or alcohol with a plan to get addicted. For most people, their curiosity causes them to try substances. They continue to use them until an addiction takes place in their lives. By that time, it’s too late to do anything about it. They find that they’re usually not able to stop using on their own, even if they want to.
When you have an addiction, you lose the ability to control your substance use. You may feel in control, but in reality, the addiction is in control. The addiction dictates how much you use, and how often you use. In this way, it becomes in charge of your life, and most likely, you remain in denial about that.
For people with addictions, their substance use takes first place in their lives. They may prefer to use drugs or alcohol rather than spend time with loved ones, eat, or even sleep. A drug or alcohol addiction has been labeled a disease because it changes how the brain functions. It also requires ongoing treatment in order for recovery to take place, just like other diseases.
Key indicators of an addiction include:
- Experiencing a compulsive need to use drugs or alcohol
- Needing to use more drugs or alcohol than you did previously to feel the effects
- Going through withdrawal when attempting to stop your substance use
- Being unable to quit using on your own
- Finding that your drug or alcohol use is impacting your life in just about every way possible
If you’re concerned about having an addiction, this addictive personality quiz can help you find out.
Causes of Addiction
It’s interesting to look at the different causes of addiction. People often wonder, do I have an addictive personality? What is it that makes me an addict, and not someone else? Getting the answers to these and any other questions you may have is very important.
A drug or alcohol addiction can be caused by a number of different things. For example, many people turn to addictions when they suffer from mental health issues. Anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions all contribute to addictions. People turn to substances as a way to treat their symptoms themselves. It works for a while, but the effects don’t last for very long.
There are other contributing factors to addiction as well. The following are all causes of addictions:
- Spending time with people who use drugs or alcohol
- Experiencing a large amount of stress
- Simply using addictive substances repeatedly, over time
- Having a personal history of addiction
- High glutamate levels in the brain
There are many causes of addiction. Some of these causes put people at risk more than others.
Addiction Risk Factors
Any disease carries risk factors for those who might eventually have it. For example, some people may have a higher cancer risk than others. The same is true for people with addictions.
There are a number of risk factors that might increase your risk for becoming an addict. Some of these are:
- Having a family history of addiction. You could be genetically predisposed to being an addict.
- Your brain chemistry. Research has shown that people with certain brain chemistries have a higher risk of addiction than others.
- Certain psychological factors. If you suffer from a mental health condition, your risk of addiction is definitely going to be higher. For example, you may have an eating disorder, a personality disorder, or just react poorly to stress.
- Your environment. If you have been physically or sexually abused, your risk of addiction is higher than someone else’s. Also, if you expose yourself to people or opportunities to use, your risk will be higher too.
- Using alcohol or smoking cigarettes at a young age. This automatically puts you at risk of addiction to other substances as you get older.
Some people may have only one of the above risk factors, while others may have more than one. If you have more than one, you should expect your risk of addiction to be quite high.
Just like there are addictive personality traits in relationships, individuals can also have addictive personality traits. Unfortunately, addictive personality is a term that gets tossed around carelessly today. We tend to think of it as something to joke about, but it is definitely a very serious subject.
Most people are able to do enjoyable things without forming addictions to them. For example, having a sweet treat for dessert, drinking alcohol, or even using drugs. However, there are those for whom these activities cause a serious problem. They find something they like, and they completely overdo it. These are individuals who have addictive personalities.
The medical director for the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at the University of Texas weighs in on this. He states that “Addictive personality is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis.” Basically, there isn’t one type of personality that is more susceptible to addiction than another. However, there are factors that can make you more likely to become an addict. He goes on to cite all of the above risk factors.
It’s important to remember that someone with an addictive personality has an inability to quit. This is a part of the disease of addiction.
There Are Common Elements From Addiction to Addiction
One possibility that is frequently overlooked is the personality of the individual – those traits that most drug addicts and alcoholics– perhaps addicts of EVERY type (gambling, sex, shopping) – seem to have in common.
A report submitted to the National Academy of Sciences concluded that there are a number of personality factors that may contribute to the development of an addiction:
- Antisocial Personality
- Social Alienation
- Values Nonconformity
- Places Little to No Importance on “Traditional” Societal Standards of Achievement
- High Tolerance for Deviant Behavior
- Poor Impulse Control
- Inability to Delay Gratification
- A Personal Sense of Being under Greater Stress
Psychology professor Alan R. Lang, of Florida State University, the study’s author, said, “If we can better identify the personality factors, they can help us devise better treatment and can open up new strategies to intervene and break the patterns and addiction.”
24 Questions You Can Ask Yourself About Your “Addictive Personality” Traits
DO YOU/HAVE YOU…
- Find it difficult to empathize with others?
- Lie to or manipulate others for personal gain?
- Arrogantly belittle the achievements or efforts of others?
- Have a hard time feeling or showing remorse for your hurtful actions?
- Enjoy breaking the rules or feel as if they don’t apply to you?
- Often fail to meet work, school, financial, or personal obligations?
- Feel detached or different from the rest of society?
- Experience severe anxiety when you meet new people?
- Have very few – or even NO – real friends?
- Purposefully reject others’ expectations of you?
- Consistently underachieve?
- Have problems maintaining a stable, long-term relationship?
- Feel strongly obligated to keep up with the newest trends?
- Constantly seek out new sensations and experiences but become quickly bored?
- Go to extremes or even disregard risks to alleviate boredom?
- Become overly-agitated when you have to wait for something that you want?
- Usually choose short-term enjoyment over long-term benefits?
- Find it almost impossible to stick to a schedule or a budget?
- Suffer from financial problems because you spend too much money on “whim” purchases?
- Constantly have to deal with legal or work-related difficulties because of a personal problem with authority?
- Become overly-agitated or unreasonable when you can’t immediately have something that you want?
- Vaguely feel that your life is somehow worse or harder than other people’s?
- Feel overwhelmed or depressed?
- Believe that you are unworthy of happiness and success?
If you find yourself answering “yes” to a significant number of the questions listed above, there is a strong possibility that you have an addictive personality, signifying that you are at an increased risk of developing some type of addiction.
In practical terms, this means that you need to take extra precaution with – or perhaps completely change – your personal behaviors. You need to be completely aware of the people, places, and things that you associate with so you do not contribute to that risk.
If the combination of your above-listed answers and your personal behaviors have you worrying that you might already have a problem, you can get more information by contacting Northpoint Recovery – the best addiction rehabilitation program Idaho has to offer.
Can You Prevent Addiction?
There are ways to prevent addiction. In fact, there is a lot that can be done to keep people from succumbing to its power in their lives.
Parents should take great care to talk with their children about drugs and alcohol. This should be done at a very early age, and it should continue until they’re adults. The more parents can talk with their children about addiction, the better.
Likewise, schools also play a key role in preventing addiction. Educators should make it a priority to get the right information into kids’ hands when they’re young. When they hear it from home, and they hear it from school, it’s much more likely to stick with them.
Kids need to be taught:
- How to resist peer pressure
- How to strengthen their own self-esteems
- How to make good decisions
- How to communicate effectively
- The right ways to manage their stress and anxiety levels
When these lessons are conveyed early on, and throughout their lives, addiction may be prevented. Even when people with addictive personalities do try drugs or alcohol, they may stop before they become addicted.
Is There Hope for Addictive Personalities?
Just because you have an addictive personality, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be an addict. You may feel that you are, and that there’s nothing you can do to change that. It’s simply not true at all.
It doesn’t matter what type of addiction you’re suffering from. You may be a drug addict who has been using for a number of years. Or, it’s possible that you are a high-functioning alcoholic who never really thought alcohol was a problem. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. The most important thing you can do is get the help you need.
When you call and speak to a trained intake specialist, you will be given the opportunity to have a professional assessment of your situation conducted. Once the severity of your condition has been identified, Northpoint Recovery’s experienced addiction specialists can create a personalized treatment strategy that can help you protect yourself and your family from the disease of addiction in all its forms.
It’s understandable if you feel hopeless. So many people do when they’re in your position. Maybe you’ve tried to stop using substances so many times, and you’re tired of failing. The right professional approach can make such a big difference for you.
Contact us today, and we’ll discuss your options with you. You may have an addictive personality, but your addiction can be treated successfully.