Is There Such a Thing as an Addictive Personality?

Addiction is a complex health issue that is characterised by a strong, uncontrollable craving for a substance or behaviour. Some people enjoy using drugs or drinking alcohol, but do not actively seek them on a regular basis. Others may try a substance out of curiosity and get hooked almost immediately. The question is, why do some people develop an addiction to certain substances or activities while others can take part in them without being addicted?

Anyone can be affected by addiction and there’s this long-standing belief that some individuals simply have addictive tendencies. This is known as an “addictive personality” which, according to some people, is a set of behavioural/emotional patterns that increases one’s risk of addiction.

But is there really such a thing as an addictive personality? Most health experts agree that addiction is a brain disorder and not a personality disorder. To clarify this, the leading rehab in Bali will be discussing what an addictive personality is to find out if it really does exist.

The supposed traits of an addictive personality

There’s no clear definition of what encompasses an addictive personality. Rather, the term is used to describe a set of inherent traits and behaviours that some people believe puts an individual at risk of addiction.

Some of the traits linked to an addictive personality are:

  • impulsiveness
  • risk-seeking behaviour
  • dishonesty
  • lack of responsibility
  • selfishness
  • low self-esteem
  • constant irritability
  • mood swings
  • social isolation

Why is the concept of an “addictive personality” harmful?

At first glance, the idea of an addictive personality might seem reasonable for preventing addiction. If we can identify those who are at risk of addiction, it would be much easier to help them. But narrowing down the complex nature of addiction to a simple personality can prove harmful in several ways:

  • It can make people believe they aren’t at risk of addiction because they don’t exhibit any of the traits related to an “addictive personality”
  • It may convince people who have an addiction that it’s in their nature and there’s nothing they can do about it
  • It suggests that people with addiction automatically exhibit negative traits like manipulating others, lying, etc.

Why is an addictive personality a myth?

Fundamentally, the idea concept of an addictive personality is a myth and this comes from scientific research. Until now, no real evidence suggests that a set of “addictive traits”  makes a person more vulnerable to developing an addiction. The whole spectrum of human character can be found on people with addiction, despite the stereotypes that are associated with it.

In fact, only 18% of addicts have a personality disorder characterised by manipulative behaviour, lying, stealing, and being anti-social. This means that 82% of individuals with addiction do not exhibit the supposed addiction personality.

Real factors that can affect a person’s risk for addiction

Now that we know that an addictive personality is inconclusive at best, what are the actual factors that can increase a person’s risk of addiction? Health professionals have outlined several factors that can lead to addiction and these are:

  • Childhood experiences A person’s upbringing can play a role in developing addiction. Growing up with neglectful parents can increase one’s risk of substance addiction. Experiencing trauma and abuse as a child can potentially lead to substance abuse earlier in life.
  • Biological factors – Genetics accounts for at least 40-60% of someone’s risk of developing addiction. Age can also play a part as teens are at a much higher risk of drug misuse due to peer pressure and curiosity.
  • Environmental factors Another factor in developing addiction is the person’s environment. If they regularly interact with colleagues, friends, or family members that are addicted to drugs, their risk for addicton increases. Another environmental factor is early exposure to illicit substances. Having access to drugs within the neighbourhood, school, or workplace can increase the risk of addiction development.
  • Mental health concerns – Mental health issues like depression or anxiety are linked to addiction and can increase one’s risk of developing the disease. Bipolar disorder or other personality disorders characterised by impulsivity can also contribute to addiction development.

What to do if you are dealing with addiction

While the burdens of addiction can lead to traits that are often associated with an addictive personality, there is not a single personality type that contributes to the disease. Understanding that addiction is a health issue and not a personality issue is very important to let people know that help is available. They don’t have to just accept it as part of their “DNA”.

If you or your loved one is suffering from addiction, do not lose hope. With a team of professional psychologists, medical staff, and counsellors, Calm Rehab provides the support and healing you need to recover from addiction. Our goal is to help you make lasting life changes and pursue a healthier future by taking your recovery one step at a time. For more information about our services, feel free to contact us today and we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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