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July 26, 2021

What does it mean to have an addictive personality?

When someone has an addiction issue related to drugs or alcohol, they often want to know what is serving as the source of that addiction. It's like they are looking for an explanation to a question they don't know how to ask.

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July 26, 2021

Have you ever heard the term "addictive personality?" As a group of professionals in a top addiction treatment rehab center, we have certainly heard that term. While we might not necessarily accept it as a viable explanation for any client's addiction issues, we recognize there are experts that believe firmly in the concept.

Definition of Addictive Personality

According to The Free Dictionary website (see source below), Addictive personality means: "A concept that was formerly used to explain addiction as the result of pre-existing character defects in individuals." In other words, an addictive personality refers to the idea that someone can actually have personality traits that make them more susceptible to addiction issues.

Is this a valid concept? We'll explore that in the sections below.

What Is an Addictive Personality?

The main issue we have with the addictive personality concept is the lack of medical or scientific evidence that it really exists. With that said, we do believe there are certain inherent factors that influence the choices people make in regard to using drugs or alcohol. Some of these factors include:

  • Family relationships and interactions
  • Psychological issues
  • Social environment (peer pressure)
  • Physical health or biology issues
  • Genetics (heredity)
  • Financial stress

While these are certainly factors that might point someone towards substance abuse, they don't really point to a predisposition to such abuse. They just stand as common factors that seem to influence people to drink or use drugs.

Still, there do seem to be some personality characteristics that are common among addiction suffers. Based upon that notion, we could support the idea that there is something of substance to the concept of an addictive personality. Let's take a look at these common personality characteristics.

Common Characteristics of an Addictive Personality

We are making a bit of a leap here, but it's a leap we are willing to make. As a collective group of addiction treatment professionals, we have seen thousands if not tens of thousands of clients through the years. We have certainly seen enough clients be able to recognize personality characteristics that many of them seem to have in common.

As a case in point, here are a few personality characteristics that we often see in our clientele:

  • They have a tendency to be rebellious, particularly against authority
  • They don't often seem goal oriented in the choices they make
  • They don't seem to have an established set of core values
  • They have difficulty distinguishing right from wrong
  • They don't seem to have a strong sense of morality
  • They possess low self esteem
  • They are quick to show signs of stress and anxiety
  • They seem to lack the ability to constrain themselves
  • They tend to have difficulty with social interactions (feel uncomfortable in social situations)
  • They easily deny personal issues

Is it possible that most people who possess these characteristics would be prone to substance abuse? Even without scientific support, it would be fair to say most addiction sufferers have a personality profile that includes many of these personality characteristics.

Addiction Treatment for the Client With an "Addictive Personality

When a client enters rehab, our job is to help them do two things. First, we need to help them get safely past their withdrawal symptoms and residual cravings for their substance of choice. We provide detox programs to help with this process.

When a client's mind and body are ready for therapy, our second focus is helping them figure out the real reasons why they feel the need to live in the destructive universe of substance abuse.

Yes, we will likely recognize some of the aforementioned "addictive personality" characteristics in many of our clients. What we have to do is try to identify which of these characteristics, if any, are at the core of why an individual client feels the need to self-medicate away their problems.

After successfully identifying what is driving a client's addiction, we can then help them work on developing better coping skills. These would be the skills they will need to better manage their triggers and possible personality issues.

When you are ready for treatment, we hope you give us a call here at Hollywood Hills Recovery. Regardless of what it is, we will help you find what drives your addictive behavior. That will help us point you towards recovery.

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