The addictive personality is often talked of as if it is a diagnostic tool–like noticing certain personality traits early on in an individual’s life may indicate an inclination towards alcoholism and abuse. This isn’t the case, however. The addictive personality is a popular term given to a continuum of independent traits that are often present in individuals who find themselves vulnerable to addiction.
The traits that make up an addictive personality are not unique to addictive behavior. Absolutely anyone may exhibit one or several of these personal attributes, and that does not indicate they are necessarily vulnerable to addiction.
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Here are 10 personality traits that are often part of the addictive personality:
- Perfectionism: This is often confused with the “overachiever,” but the two are not synonymous. The perfectionist craves a level of accuracy that is not possible to attain. This behavior may manifest itself through high-achieving behavior, as well as procrastination or self-sabotage from a fear of failure.
- Black and white thinking: This is an all or nothing mentality that will often shape people’s behaviors. You can either do something entirely or not at all. In most situations there is a middle road, but black and white thinkers often don’t see that option.
- Guilt-ridden: Extreme guilt is a common personality trait among addicts. This is not guilt pending from one action, but is instead a tendency to feel guilty over behaviors they are not responsible for.
- Anger: It is okay to feel anger, and we all feel angry or upset from time to time. However, there are those who hold onto that anger and let it become part of their personality, and this can increase a person’s likelihood of turning to addictive behavior as an escape.
- Depression: Chronic depression can increase a person’s risk of facing addiction, as stimulants can reduce or offset the feelings of depression.
- Authoritative trouble: There are two ways that trouble with authority may manifest itself. The first is the most commonly addressed, where an individual may act out against an authority figure. The other is more acceptable and so more often overlooked, which is the constant desire for approval from authority.
- Wishful thinking: It is always good to be hopeful, but extreme wishful thinking to the point of irrational thoughts may increase your vulnerability for addictive behavior.
- Child at heart: Hesitation to grow up is common among addicts. Adulthood is synonymous with responsibility, and fearing that responsibility can lead people to turn to drugs or alcohol for an escape.
- Poor coping skills: Those at risk for addiction are often prone to coping poorly with both positive and negative factors in their life. This personality trait often causes a person to freeze or procrastinate to avoid change.
- Impatience: The need for immediate gratification is common among addicts. This makes sense, as drugs and alcohol provide immediate relief while causing long-term consequences.
Outside factors influence how these personality traits manifest themselves in our lives. Becoming more aware of the ways your personality traits might influence your risk for addiction may encourage you to encourage or control certain behaviors in your own life.
Why do people develop addiction?
Oftentimes, the tendency toward addiction develops as a result of unresolved childhood trauma. This can be traumatic events such as abuse, loss of a loved one, or witnessing physical violence. Alcohol or other substances may become a way for someone to cope later in life, when they didn’t have the resources to deal appropriately with the trauma.
Substance abuse may also come as a result of using drugs or alcohol to reduce anxiety, enhance focus, relax, or gain other seemingly positive benefits. However, these effects fade over time as the alcohol/drug use continues and eventually produce negative effects such as reduced energy, depressed mood, increased anxiety, and reduced involvement with family and colleagues.
Get help now
Not everyone with problematic drinking habits needs to practice abstinence. If your drinking problem isn’t severe, Dr. Washton will make a personalized treatment plan to help you learn to drink in moderation. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or alcohol dependency, help is available. Contact us for a confidential consultation.