Addiction is dependency on a particular substance or activity. Several factors cause addiction, such as a person’s family, psychology and personality. Recently, some personality traits have been linked to addiction. However, this does not mean that anyone with such personality traits is prone to addiction. Research shows that the impact of genetics on addiction changes over time. Other factors, such as social environment and a support system, also affect behavior.
Addictive personality is the belief that specific personality traits are prone to addiction. Research shows that the probability by which personality impacts an addictive behavior range from 40% to 70%.
Many people think that an addictive personality is responsible for addictive behavior, but there is no medical classification of addictive personality as a disorder. Personality traits vary between individual addiction types and ages.
What Causes Addictive Personality?
Research shows that several personality traits are associated with addiction to drugs, substance, gambling and online gaming.
Impulsivity is one of the traits associated with an addictive personality. It is a common condition for gamblers and those who drink too much alcohol. The trait is characterized by very unprompted and unpredictable behavior. Impulsivity leads to poor decision making and risky behaviors.
Sensation–seeking behavior is another trait related to addiction. Individuals with this trait tend to engage in dangerous acts. They make rushed decisions to gain new experiences. Sensation-seeking behavior is closely associated with impulsivity.
Addiction is also associated with negativity. Negative emotions may include anger, sadness and guilt. In high levels, these emotions lead to risky behaviors like substance abuse. Individuals with negativity traits may abuse drugs to deal with these negative feelings.
Negative urgency refers to how hastily a person responds or cope with stress. Individuals with negative urgency find it challenging to cope up with stress. They are more likely to fall into drug abuse to cope with their immediate need to remove negative feelings.
Neuroticism categorized as one of the Big Five personality traits. Individuals with neuroticism are more likely to show feelings like depression and anxiety. In addition, they are moodier than average. These individuals are more likely than the average person to suffer from substance use disorder because they may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to deal with mood swings and anxiety.
Selfish and disagreeable individuals also fall into the category of behavior traits that make a person prone to substance abuse. Such people are unfriendly and uncooperative. Recent research concluded that disagreeableness is highly associated with substance abuse and addiction.
Narcissistic individuals are also prone to substance misuse. Narcissism is a condition that causes an individual to experience a high sense of self-worth. Such individuals are arrogant and always in an excessive need for attention. Narcissistic individuals might struggle with overuse of drugs and alcohol to deal with these symptoms.
Hostility is another trait to look out for in individuals with personality addiction. Hostile and aggressive individuals tend to engage in violent behavior. Violence and resentment have been associated with alcohol and drug addiction, and the use of such substances can aggravate a person’s natural tendency to hostility when they are under the influence.
Having such traits, however, does not mean that you will develop an addiction problem. Other factors also influence a person’s behavior. Protective factors include aspects such as the availability of a sound support system and good resilience. Most people with these protective factors can fight addiction.
Engaging in positive activities such as exercise is also a protective factor. Activities like rock climbing are helpful for impulsive and sensation-seeking individuals to channel energy into positive behaviors.
It is also important to note that even individuals who lack these traits can develop an addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of an Addictive Personality
There are several symptoms associated with an addictive personality. Adolescents usually exhibit these symptoms. Such symptoms include the following:
● High impulsivity is exhibited by individuals who lack self-control. They engage in risky behaviors, which could lead to substance abuse.
● Depression is characterized by hostile moods and a lack of interest in daily activities. Depression can be caused by psychological or social stress. Individuals with depression may be more likely to fall into substance abuse. In severe cases, it could lead to suicidal thoughts.
● Individuals with the extroversion trait are very outgoing and enjoy being around people. They enjoy gatherings and parties. Such people can have easy access to alcohol and drugs.
● Anxiety refers to feelings of fear and worry. Individuals with this trait may experience panic attacks. People who exhibit these symptoms may be more likely to engage in substance abuse as a way of coping with the symptoms.
● Individuals with neuroticism express feelings such as anger, anxiety, jealousy and loneliness. They may be shy and keep to themselves. Neurotic individuals tend to respond negatively to stress, which could lead to substance abuse.
Other commonly seen symptoms include low self-esteem, social anxiety and aggression. Some of these symptoms may show up at an early age, and others develop much later in life. It is essential to detect them early because early detection creates time for preventive measures to be adopted.
Addictive Personality Risk and Protective Factors
Certain factors lead to adverse outcomes in an individual with addictive personality. In this case, risk factors could lead to substance abuse and addiction. Here are some of the risk factors:
● Prenatal exposure to drug abuse. Research shows that prenatal exposure to drug abuse negatively impacts the child’s behavior. Such children are less likely to focus or pay attention. They may express symptoms like anxiety and learning difficulties.
● Addicted parents. Drug use changes a parents’ perception. Children living with addicted parents tend to feel neglected and abused. The feeling of neglect negatively changes their behavior and can lead to substance abuse too.
● Mental illness. This risk factor can also alter a person’s behavior if they attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
● Poverty increases stress, and stress is listed among factors that lead to substance abuse. Substances may be taken as a temporary escape from the stress.
● The availability of drugs is also a risk factor.
Other factors also include the stress associated with racism, aggressive behavior and lack of adult supervision.
On the other hand, protective factors lead to positive outcomes in an individual. Such factors help prevent individuals from abusing drugs and alcohol. Such factors include:
● A positive self-image. People with high self-esteem are less likely to be swayed into substance abuse. They exhibit self-control and social competence.
● Parental supervision. Parental involvement in a child’s life is essential. It enables the parent to monitor the child’s behavior. Supervision decreases the chances of child substance abuse.
● Positive community relationships. Other factors, such as positive peer relationships and stable families, also positively impact behavior.
● Availability of after-school activities. It enables children to engage in mind-involving activities, thus keeping them focused. These activities help keep them away from substance abuse by providing supportive peer groups.
What Are the Available Addictive Personality Treatment Options?
Several treatment programs can help manage a person’s addiction while investigating the underlying causes and treating them as well. The following are common treatment options.
This treatment takes place in an inpatient facility. The patients are required to stay at the facility as they receive therapy, medication and other interventions. The inpatient treatment allows them to stay away from the substances and gives them time to recover.
Such treatment can be given in the form of detox, group therapy and individual therapy. Other options may include yoga classes and other wellness activities.
Outpatient treatment enables the patient to go back home as they continue with the treatment. The patient is then required to check in for treatment sessions. Therapy and counseling are offered to these patients.
This program may be challenging for patients who are likely to relapse. Such patients are advised to enroll in a partial hospitalization program. The program focuses on ensuring that the patient is stable, thus helping prevent them from relapsing.
Formerly addicted individuals who are now in recover mainly run 12-step programs. Typically, these programs embrace spirituality as recovery is guided in 12 steps. Every step moved is a step closer to recovery as addicted individuals learn how to ask for support, repair relationships, avoid past behaviors and make goals for the future. The program is divided into various groups that help individuals find mentors and peer support.
Alcoholics Anonymous helps those struggling with alcohol addiction. Narcotics Anonymous helps those struggling with drug addiction. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon help the family members and other loved ones who want to assist those in recovery while healing their relationships.
Some of the 12 steps include:
• Accepting that you are struggling with addiction and that you need help
• Believing that you can recover from your addiction.
• Admitting to yourself and those close to you that you have made mistakes
• Rebuilding your relationships with those who were affected by your addiction
• Encouraging other substance users to join your journey of recovery.
These programs are meant for teenagers. The treatment mostly takes place in an outpatient setting. Only severe cases are treated in the inpatient setting. Several factors are considered when determining the course of treatment for teens. These factors include other existing medical conditions, risk of relapse and environmental factors. Environmental factors include aspects such as the support provided by family and school as well as whether those environments involve drugs, alcohol or extreme stress. Willingness to change is also an essential factor to consider during treatment.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Dual diagnosis occurs when a person with mental illness is struggling with substance use disorder. Dual diagnosis can occur in two ways. One is when the mental disorder is caused by substance abuse due to drug-induced chemical changes in the brain. Second is when a person with mental illness starts abusing drugs or alcohol to cope. Dual diagnosis treatment can help both cases progress to recovery.
Typically, an individual undergoes one-on-one therapy with a professional to help them uncover their reasons for turning to drugs or alcohol. While they receive tools for managing cravings and dealing with triggers, they also receive treatment for their mental illness, such as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. The goal is to treat both conditions at the same time so that the person has the best chance of preventing relapse.
Medication-assisted treatment is mostly used to help patients cope with withdrawal symptoms. The medications also help reduce urges and cravings because they have unique properties that prevent the abuse of the drug itself.
Addiction therapy can be done on an individual, group or family basis. Individual treatment is the process of having a one-on-one session with a therapist. It is especially suitable for those with anxiety issues because it creates a safe environment to discuss their issues.
Group therapy involves going through treatment with other individuals with similar addiction problems. Members share their struggles and experiences, and they understand and support each other throughout the process. This therapy aids in recovery by providing peer support.
Family therapy is when the patient goes through treatment with the support of some of their family members. It enables the family members to understand what each one of them is going through. The family members of the addicted individual learn how to help, and the addicted individual is able to repair those relationships that may have been damaged by their substance abuse. Family therapy lowers the chances of relapse.
NFA Behavioral Health
NFA Behavioral Health is a treatment center located in Canterbury, NH. The facility is well-known for having a low client-to-clinician ratio so that each client receives personal attention and individualized treatment. This feature is ideal for clients who prefer an intimate setting to larger treatment centers. NFA Behavioral Health offers treatment in various settings, such as one-on-one sessions and process groups.
If you or a loved one has an addictive personality that has led to substance abuse, NFA Behavioral Health is here to provide treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help today.