When people talk about addiction, a common image that comes to mind is that of a person who’s addicted to drugs or alcohol. This image has become the subconscious icon for a person with an addictive personality. But what is an addictive personality, and is someone who has it doomed to develop a drug or alcohol addiction? Especially for people who grew up around drugs or alcohol or had a family history of addiction, understanding the traits of an addictive personality is a safety precaution that can keep you sober.
What Is Addictive Personality Disorder?
Also known as an addictive personality disorder, having an addictive personality refers to a person who is inherently or genetically more likely to develop an addiction of some kind. The addictive personality definition implies that some people are wired to become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other substances or behaviors.
However, an addictive personality is not an actual diagnosis. It is a nonmedical term that tends to get thrown around a lot. While personalities are overly complex, and no personalities are more prone to addiction than others, several factors can increase one’s likelihood of developing an addiction.
- Genetics: According to the American Psychological Association (APA), at least half of a person’s susceptibility to addiction can be linked to genetics.1
- Family history of addiction: A family history of addiction can also increase a person’s likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. Not only because of genetics but also because of environmental factors, such as learned behaviors. People who grow up in families where heavy drinking or drug use was common are more likely to engage in this behavior.
- History of addiction: Having a personal history of another form of addiction, such as gambling addiction, may also increase the risk of developing a drug or alcohol use disorder. Otherwise referred to as cross-addiction, a person who is trying to recover from one type of addiction is at risk of becoming addicted to something that produces a similar thrill or sensation. Cross addiction is one of the most common mistakes to avoid in recovery.
- Impulsivity: Having an impulsive nature or a mental health disorder that causes impulsivity (such as ADHD) can also increase the chances of addiction. A naturally impulsive person may not consider all the possible risks of using drugs or alcohol and may “jump the gun” without thinking of the costs.
- Mental illness: Mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and PTSD are all linked to addiction. Many individuals with mental health disorders will turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. On the other hand, a person with an addiction is likely to develop a mental illness because of the drug’s chemical impact on their brain.
People with addictive personalities may vary in nature and disposition. So, while these are risk factors, every person’s situation is different.
Do I Have an Addictive Personality?
There is no single generic personality that is prone to addiction. Some disparate traits can lead different people to become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other behaviors, depending on factors like the ones we mentioned previously.
Nevertheless, while not all traits of an addictive personality are present in every person who develops an addiction, some can be recognized among individuals with addictive personalities. Common signs of an addictive personality include:
- Have relatives who have substance use disorders
- Underlying mental illness
- Engage in adventurous and risk-taking behaviors
- Is disconnected from and cautious about others
- Socially withdrawn
- Obsessive and compulsive
- Apathetic or indifferent
- Unable to self-regulate
- Emotionally unstable
To combat the traits of an addictive personality and prevent a substance use disorder from developing, our Heartland recovery center offers various substance abuse therapy programs that can help individuals learn how to manage their behaviors and develop self-regulation skills. Additionally, for those who have already developed substance use disorders, our Heartland detox and addiction treatment programs can help get the recovery process started.