Addictive personality is a term that refers to the theory that certain people will almost inevitably become addicted to drugs, or suffer from other non-drug-related addictions as a result of a particular set of personality traits they naturally possess. For someone to say that you have an addictive personality implies that you have certain characteristics that make you more susceptible to addictions of any kind. This could be an addiction relating to drug and substance abuse, alcohol, sex, gambling, and even work. Many people stay away from addictive activities because they feel that they belong to this particular group of people.
The following three factors are believed to influence addictive personality.
Even though studies show that there is no one single set of traits that can adequately cover addictive personality, several significant personality factors are considered responsible for this situation. These factors include:
- Impulsiveness: when you have the habit of doing things without thinking them through, or getting involved in rash or reckless behaviour with no regard for the repercussions.
- Need for adventure and new sensations: when you constantly feel the need to try out something new just to find out what it feels like.
- Nonconformity: when you are not able to follow what society deems
- Tolerating strange habits: if you are known to be tolerant of strange habits, or if you show an clear disregard for social norms.
- When you find it difficult to cope with stress or difficult situations, you have a tendency to use substances to forget about your problems
- Negative affect: when you are constantly experiencing unpleasant emotions such as sadness and anger, it can lead to dysfunctional behaviours, including drug and substance abuse. People with negative affect are more likely to abuse drugs than look for healthier ways to cope with stress.
- Aggression: when you often show hostile and aggressive tendencies towards others, it can lead to addiction, especially addiction to gaming as an outlet for these tendencies.
There are claims that addictive beliefs in people, like those associated with lack of confidence, such as the belief that “I am not good enough”, or, “I don’t have what it takes to get things done”, can lead to developing the type of traits that may lead to addiction. Some of these traits include depression, anxiety, and insecurity. If you are in control or have a strong belief in yourself that you have what it takes to keep control your life, you are less likely to become addicted to anything. However, it is not yet clear if the above traits are direct causes of addictive personality, are the results of addictive personality, or only associated with it.
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Physical, Environmental, and Genetic Factors
Studies suggest that if you are exposed to certain circumstances during childhood, such as an unfavourable growing environment, sexual abuse, neglectful/abusive parental behaviour, painful medical conditions and/or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), this could lead to addiction in later life. Additionally, there are a few genetic or hereditary traits that are also assumed to result in addictive personality.
Social conditions such as depression, anxiety, poor working and living conditions, compulsive behaviour, and poor self control have been linked to certain mental abnormalities. Likewise, finding yourself in an environment where the use and misuse of substances is rampant may assist in the development of an addictive personality. This is why some people seek out an environment where they can easily find the substance or activities they need to feed their addiction.
According to research, both genetics and the environment play an important role in the development of addiction. These effects are unique to each individual, and may change either for better or worse over the person’s lifespan.
The Signs of Addictive Behaviour
There is a fine line between an acceptable amount of a certain behaviour and addiction – but how do you know when you have crossed this line? An addictive personality, which leads to destructive behaviour, can cause severe damage to your life, and the lives of those around you. If you think you may be crossing the line, or want to know if you have any of the discussed traits, the following are signs and symptoms to look out for.
- Lack of control over impulsive behaviour: while there is nothing wrong with trying out new things, an unrelenting and consistent need for adventure, or the next great thing, is not a healthyway to live. If you feel that you have no control over your need for constant new experiences, especially if these experiencesoften involve danger, this is a clear sign of an addictive personality.
- Lack of commitment to personal goals: if you notice that you have a desire to constantly partake in impulsive behaviour, you probably realise that you also find it difficult to keep up with your own personal goals and commitments. It is only natural to forget about your former endeavours in pursuit of a new activity or adventure.
- Constant stress and feelings of anxiety: if, after any impulsive action or behaviour, you end up with feelings of guilt, personal regret, or disappointment, this may be the burden of an addictive personality weighing you down.
- Social alienation: if you realise that you don’t stick to one group of friends, or one particular social group; or that you are not comfortable among people in general, this could be a sign of an addictive personality.
- Mood swings and a sense of low self worth: the final sign that you may have an addictive personality is if you have a constant negative feeling about yourself, despite your achievements or what others say. Constant mood swings and unexplained feelings of depression are also marks of an addictive personality.
Common Forms of Addiction
There are many different forms of addiction, some being very well known and others being more obscure. Here are some of the most common forms of addiction.
- Drug/substance addiction: this is the most well-known form of addition. You are clearly addicted when you constantly feel the need to take drugs and/or other substances, including alcohol, in order to feel a level of euphoria or achieve a desired mental state.
- Gambling: another fairly common form of addiction in people who have an addictive personality is gambling. Regardless of whether you are winning or losing, if you cannot control your urge to gamble, to the point that it begins to affect your finances and lifestyle, you have become addicted to it.
- Eating disorders: compulsive overeating, anorexia, and bulimia are other forms of addiction which need to be considered. While there are many factors that contribute to eating disorders, in some cases, they can develop into addiction, in which you either compulsively eat too much or compulsively stay away from food to the point of starvation.
- Compulsive buying: when you buy items not because you need them or will eventually use them, but because you feel like buying them, it is known as compulsive buying, and this is a form of addiction. Most people who suffer from compulsive buying are also known to suffer from eating disorders, mood swings, depression and anxiety.
Other forms of addiction include addiction to sex, addiction to mobile phones, computer and internet use, addiction to exercise, and even addiction to some forms of religion/faith (cults).
While some of these behaviours may seem innocent, they are all equally harmful, and can ruin your life and your relationships with other people. This is why it is important that you seek help as soon as possible if you find yourself exhibiting any of the above behaviours.
Forms of Treatment and Care
If you, or someone you know, are exhibiting any of the signs of addictive personality listed above, know that you are not alone. More than two million people in the UK are in the same situation. Fortunately, it is possible to get professional help to help you handle and overcome addiction. In some cases, this help will involve counseling, and therapeutic approaches may also be needed. At the end of the day, with the right help and the right environment, you will be able to overcome these compulsive tendencies and live a normal healthy life.
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