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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

addictive personality disorder
7 Traits of People With Addictive Personality Disorder

Researchers today believe that a combination of genetics and environment elements predisposes certain individuals to a higher risk of substance abuse disorders. What’s more, they believe that these factors manifest in a person’s personality in different ways.

The person who displays these mental traits has an Addictive Personality Disorder. Addiction is a disease that affects your brain function and alters your behavior.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that 19.7 million people in the US above the age of 12 have a substance use disorder. Addiction is related to alcohol or illicit substances.

Addiction isn’t limited to hard drugs and alcohol. There are other legal substances one can get addicted to. What may begin with the purest of intentions might lead you down a dark path of dependency.

This article explores 7 common addictive personality traits. These could serve as early warning signs of impending addiction. Read on.

1. Addictive Personality Disorder: Inability to Self-Regulate

Individuals with this characteristic often find themselves in a battle to resist impulsivity. They’re also unable to manage feelings of anxiety.

Self-regulation refers to the ability to make and stick to choices that tie into values that safeguard your well-being. If you can’t manage certain feelings and thoughts, that’s a red flag. The likelihood that you’ll moderate the use of alcohol and other addictive substances is slim.

2. Impulse Control Problems

Poor impulse control is one of the most common characteristics of a drug addict. Individuals with this trait are likely to have no problem making sudden decisions with little to no regard for the long-term consequences. They usually pay no attention to the negative effects that alcohol and substance abuse have on their health.

They also struggle with managing gratification. They would rather forgo a bigger reward in the long term and instead pick a smaller reward in the short term.

3. Adventure-Seeking Trait

Of all the characteristics of addiction, thrill-seeking behavior is the most common. This trait results from an underlying need for stimulating experiences.

These individuals push the bounds on what activities they can try out. This is in total disregard of the level of danger associated with these new experiences.

Consequently, they are a lot more likely to experiment with addictive substances. According to a study, people who display this trait have high levels of dopamine in their brain. This makes them less sensitive to the effects of risky activities.

4. Anxiety Struggles

While adventure-seekers may throw caution to the wind, the other end of the spectrum has individuals who are prone to anxiety and worry. People with high anxiety levels often struggle in social situations. They may end up taking alcohol or drugs to manage/treat their anxiety.

Researchers have found that, more often than not, individuals who struggle with anxiety are more susceptible to becoming full-blown addicts.

The irony of it all is that drug dependency increases anxiety in these individuals. This is especially evident when they experience withdrawal symptoms. It further perpetuates this vicious cycle since they end up using more of the drug to counteract these effects.

5. Depressive Trait

People who suffer from depression might result in using drugs to self-treat their illness. This is usually in an attempt to escape their reality. They might end up developing an unhealthy relationship with pills.

More often than not, these individuals end up with a dual diagnosis. This means that they battle more than one illness at the same time.

It’s common to find individuals suffering from depression also battling addiction. Depressive people are at higher-than-average risk of developing a substance addiction issue.

6. Obsessive-Compulsive Trait

Obsessive-compulsive behavior refers to a person’s inability to stop an action or a series of thoughts even if they wanted to. This behavior continues even if it has a negative impact on a person’s life. 

Research shows that people who display this trait and people who suffer from addiction all have similar sectors of their brain activated. A person struggling with addiction thinks about the next opportunity to get high. 

They obsess over it. As is the case with the onset of most other addictions, a person with obsessive-compulsive traits may rely on drugs to manage the disorder. In the end, there’s a high likelihood that they might end up addicted to the drugs.

7. Multiple Addictions

More often than not, individuals suffering from substance addiction usually struggle with other addiction disorders as well.  For instance, it isn’t uncommon to find people who have an alcohol addiction, addicted to smoking as well.

This is because of the social environment the two activities take place in. They are often a package item. A person develops a second addiction as a result of the genetic or environmental predisposition of the first addiction.

The Bottom Line

Having an Addictive Personality Disorder doesn’t automatically spell doom for anyone who exhibits these traits. Just because a person has them doesn’t mean that they’ll develop an addiction.

There are lots of other factors at play when an individual develops an addiction. For instance, you might find that a sensation-seeking impulsive person chooses to immerse themselves in activities like sky-diving. They may never develop a substance addiction issue.

You might also find a person who doesn’t have any of the above traits. However, they may end up developing a dependency on substances.

There are other elements at play.

Having a strong support network and the tools to deal with life stressors have a protective effect on individuals with addictive personality traits. Those elements are what ultimately prevent addiction.

Did you know that the interpersonal relationships of addicts are often the first victim of Addictive Personality Disorder? Read more about the link between addiction and relationships.

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