The term ‘addictive personality’ is a fairly wide brush often used to describe anyone who over-indulges in drugs or drink, but how accurate is it, and is it possible to have a personality that means you stand a greater chance than your next door neighbor of suffering from one type of addiction or another?
What defines a personality?
Personality is a very complex subject and while a fair amount is now understood about personalities, science and medical professionals still have some way to go in terms of having all the answers.
Your personality sets you apart from other people. It is a set of individual differences that each person displays. Personality is judged by your attitude, thoughts and actions on a wide range of characteristics such as attitude, habits, natural skills, what values you have and your approach to social relationships.
A personality trait refers to major characteristics displayed in the behavior and reaction a person demonstrates during different situations.
Many of us simply accept the personality we have been labelled with and get on with things without too much concern, but to think you may have an addictive personality is surely something most of us would look into.
This would be to understand if such a personality really exists, and if so what are the chances of falling foul of one addiction or another.
Are you prone to addiction?
There is no individual diagnosis that labels a person as having an addictive personality. There is also no particular type of personality that is more prone to addiction than another, but there is a combination of factors that can increase the likelihood of a person becoming addicted:
Let’s take a look at some of these factors and start with the major one:
Look at your family history:
As research continues into personalities comprehensive studies have proved that there is a genetic link to addiction.
Experts state that the risk of a person becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs is significantly affected by genetics. If there is a family history of addiction the chance you will become addicted contributes to 50 % of the risk.
While this is a significant factor it must be made clear that genetics alone do not mean you will become addicted. Indeed, many with a family history of addiction show no addictive tendencies and live normal lives.
Dependent upon the environment you are brought up in, your parents attitude to drink and drug taking, and general expectancies of the social circles you move in regarding the regular use of drink and drugs goes a long way to dictating addiction possibilities.
If you have grown up in an environment that readily accepts the consequences of excessive drink or drug use, then the chances that you will try addictive substances are enhanced. Regular exposure to alcohol or drugs strengthens your need to continue use.
Tolerance can lead to dependence:
Tolerance to both alcohol and drugs comes relatively easily. Your body and mind like what you are feeding it and hanker more.
If the environment you are in offers easy access to one or both, and the community you mix with have liberal views as to the use and abuse of these substances the chances are you will be tempted to use more often than you should.
As your tolerance for these substance increases it means you need more of the same to achieve similar results. Put simply; the more you use, the more you need, the more you need the more you use.
If you allow this never-ending, constantly increasing circle to go unchecked then the next step is dependence. Once a person is dependent upon a substance this means they need it simply to function.
Addiction personality traits:
There are no tests to tell whether a person will develop an addiction or not, but certain traits point to an increased possibility.
Need for excitement:
If you take pleasure at the thrill of fast driving, get excited when taking risks, or savour the thoughts of risky sexual flings then using illegal drugs may well be in your make-up. These substances provide the brain with a rush of the chemical dopamine. Amongst other things dopamine is responsible for pleasure.
If you have an impulsive streak, get a thrill out of doing things ‘off-the-cuff’, and don’t dwell too much on the long-term consequences of your actions this is another trait that can contribute to an addictive personality.
Unable to stop:
You realize that the amount of alcohol you are drinking, or the level of drug use you are at needs addressing and have tried to quit, but failed to do so. If you continue to use a substance regardless of the personal physical and psychological problems it is causing, or how it is affecting those closest to you then this is a trait that spells:
Warning: Addiction Issues Ahead.