Forbes Magazine wrote in 2013 about a study that investigated whether or not a person’s IQ and social status might play a factor in addictions across the United States.
Those that thought people with lower IQs might be at higher risk of addiction can think again. It has been shown that those that are the most successful, thoughtful, intelligent and wealthy have a higher chance of developing drug addictions or alcoholism over those that are not as successful.
While this might be just a starting point to explaining why some develop addictions more easily than others, the primary takeaway of the study and subsequent article is that certain characteristics associated with addiction are also those that are common among the highest achievers in our society.
Character Traits that Contribute to Addiction
David Linden, a neuroscientist that has studied addiction extensively found that certain personality traits are simultaneously beneficial for achieving worldly success and detrimental to one’s propensity for addiction. Both neurological and environmental triggers can account for a person developing a lasting addiction, with the personal traits commonly known as having an addictive personality. These traits are:
- Instant Gratification
- Risk-Taking Behaviors
While these might seem like traits that can be both positive and negative, they are also the traits of great managers, CEOs and billionaires. They are the traits that get a person to the top of the ladder in the business world and other professional settings. It is the reward experience, and the pleasure-seeking ladder that drives these professionals to higher levels of achievement. It just so happens that these driving forces are also known to propel a person toward unhealthy drug abuse.
This shows us that whether a person prone to both financial success and substance abuse has a higher sense of reward-seeking and risk tolerance.
Environmental Factors to Addiction
While these traits might be a very significant part of the equation, there are also environmental factors that come into play for developing addiction. Genetic disposition in a person is a great factor, especially hereditary traits that lend themselves to an addictive personality, but those that have gone through any sort of trauma - emotionally or physically or have a painful life experience are also more likely to use than others. Those that work in high stress environments, which is common among those in successful positions and stations, are often driven to drug abuse as a means to deal with stress or cope with the pressures at hand.
It is often easy to dismiss or ignore the signs of addiction when your drug of choice is closely related to your performance or prior success, as is often the case with amphetamines and other stimulants abused in high-performance professions. Learn to recognize your limits and ask for help when you recognize the problem.