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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      05-21-14 | By

      Factors of an Addictive Personality – What to Look For

      Addictions come in many forms, and a person can be addicted to almost anything. If a behavior or use of something becomes unhealthy and destructive, but a person is still unable to stop, it’s become an addiction. Drugs, sex, gambling, exercise, eating, cutting… there are so many types. The disease of addiction can manifest itself in many different ways. It’s often said that some people just have an “addictive personality” that makes them more likely to have an addiction.

      addictive personality

      Genetics and brain chemistry can make a person predisposed to addiction. In recovery, it’s widely accepted that addiction is something that never fully goes away – a person who was once addicted is always at risk of relapse. There are so many similarities between addicts and their addictions that it’s possible to identify commonly shared personality traits.

      In a classic study for the National Academy of Sciences, study author Alan R. Lang said there are “significant personality factors” that can make a person more likely to develop an addiction. He said those factors are:

      “-Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality, and a disposition toward sensation seeking.

      -A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.

      -A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.

      -A sense of heightened stress.”

      If you’ve ever had an addiction, you might recognize some of those traits in your own personality. Of course, not everyone is the same, and that’s why it’s difficult to say exactly what an addictive personality consists of. Here are some other biological, psychological, and environmental factors that are often found in people who suffer from the disease of addiction:

      -Abnormal dopamine levels.

      -Depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.

      -Low tolerance for stress and poor coping skills.

      -Poor self-control.

      -Low self-esteem.

      -High sensitivity to emotions.

      -Being a high risk-taker.

      -Feelings of insecurity in relationships.

      If you have an addictive personality, it simply means that you’re at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Not everyone with addictive personality traits will develop an addiction. If you know you have an addictive personality, it’s important for you to try your best to keep stress and emotions in check. Keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy is a strong defense. It’s also a good idea to avoid situations that could lead to addiction, such as hanging around people who use drugs. Sometimes total abstinence from things that might be a problem for you, such as gambling or drinking, is the best way to stop them from becoming an addiction.

      One of the concerns of having an addictive personality is the possibility of trading one addiction for another. For example, it’s common for people in recovery from substance abuse to become addicted to exercising. While exercising is a healthy activity, it can be taken to an unhealthy level, which is why self-monitoring and keeping up with your addiction treatment are necessary.

      An “addictive personality” is a subjective term that can’t have a clear cut definition. However, understanding common traits among addicts is essential for effective addiction treatment. Being honest with yourself, too, about your own traits that could predispose you to addiction is a positive step toward avoiding addictive behaviors.


      Lisa M. Hann is a freelance writer specializing in addiction and recovery. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Temple University. She has been sober since 2010, and she resides in New Jersey with her son. She’s the author of the books How to Have Fun in Recovery and 365 Ways to Have Fun Sober.


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