The term “addictive personality” is often used flippantly, and it implies that a person may be predisposed to substance use disorder based on their personality type. But it’s not that simple. There isn’t one single personality type that automatically indicates a potential for addiction. There are, however, a few distinct personality traits that are common among people who struggle with substance use disorder:
1. Low Self-Esteem
How we view ourselves has a significant impact on how we go about our lives. People with low self-esteem and self-worth feel like they are not worthy of enjoying success and happiness in life, which affects every aspect of a person’s life–especially their relationships with other people. Many people who are struggling with low self-esteem will use substances because it offers a temporary solution for negative feelings, but it only causes those feelings to worsen.
An unrealistic sense of self-importance can also indicate addictive behavior. People who exhibit grandiose behavior appear pretentious to other people. They may view themselves as special, superior to others and invincible. However, grandiosity is often used as a defense mechanism for people to cover up their feelings of low self-worth and fear of vulnerability.
Impulsive behavior is the tendency to act in a situation with little or no forethought or consideration of the consequences. Evidence shows that impulsivity indicates the escalation of drug intake and increases the likelihood of relapse after periods of abstinence, which suggests that there could be an impact on brain function that predisposes an individual to impulsive behavior and addiction.
It’s thought to be one of the most common traits, if not the most common trait, among people who struggle with addiction. Impulsivity is closely linked to instant gratification, with impulsive people wanting to feel happy in the present moment instead of holding out and setting goals that can lead to future long-term happiness.
Examples of impulsive behavior include:
- Binge eating.
- Reckless driving.
- Going on spending sprees.
- Destroying property.
- Getting into fights with people.
A compulsion is an intense urge to do something. It can lead to a behavior, but it doesn’t have to. It is a tendency to repeat the same, typically purposeless acts, which are often associated with negative consequences. Examples of compulsive behavior include:
- Nail biting.
Many people who struggle with addiction pride themselves on being nonconformists, or different than others. While marching to your own beat is an admirable quality, when someone places such a high importance on being different, it can lead to social isolation, reclusiveness and destructive behavior. The need to rebel against social norms can drive a person to break the rules, endangering themselves and other people.
6. The Inability to Handle Stress
People who are unable to cope with stress in healthy ways may turn to substances as a way of self-medicating and relieving stress. Without the proper skills to manage stress, the stress inevitably continues, so a person will seek more and more of a substance to get relief.
Addictive behaviors vary from person to person, and it’s important to remember that these personality traits don’t necessarily indicate an automatic propensity for addiction. Instead, they’re risk factors. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Guardian Recovery Network can help. Contact us at 877-831-2533 for more information about our recovery services.