What Is An Addictive Personality?
An addictive personality is a personality that is more likely to become addicted to something. This can include someone becoming extremely passionate about something and developing an obsession or fixation. The underlying factors for getting carried away and overindulging in video games, food, sex, or drugs stem from hidden anxiety, depression, and poor impulse control.
Some of these behaviors can be an attempt to heal unrealized or repressed emotions. At first glance being addicted to a video game or food can seem harmless, especially when compared to substance use disorders. The problem is the object of addiction can change. This means someone can have a phase of being addicted to video games, then transition into other objects — or substances — of abuse.
Signs Of An Addictive Personality
Individuals with an addictive personality can be identified by several traits. Experiencing mental conditions like depression and anxiety can, but do not always, indicate addictive personalities. There are a number of better indicators of addictive personalities, including:
- Comfort eating/binge eating
- Using alcohol to socialize or relax
- Checking one’s phone or social media too much
- Replacing sexual partners for a false sense of intimacy
- Impulse buying/excessive shopping
- Excessive risk-taking
- Drug use for coping
- Never feeling satisfied/needing more of a particular feeling
- An inability to stop using harmful chemicals
- An inability to curtail other harmful activities
Being able to stop and control one’s actions indicates healthy boundaries and a lower level of attachment. If you or someone you know hides their harmful behavior, that could signal a problem needing intervention.
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The Genetics Of An Addictive Personality
Much research is being done on the medical diagnosis of addictive personality as personalities are multifaceted and complicated. Research has discovered a link between genetics and someone’s ability to have an addictive personality. Those born to parents who have been addicted to a substance or exhibited a behavioral addiction are more likely to exhibit addictive personalities themselves.
Additionally, individuals born to parents who have suffered anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder can be predisposed to having an addictive personality. Genetics are not the sole indicator of addictive personalities; however, they can be a great influence on someone’s personality traits.
Impulse Control And The Addictive Personality
Other factors include one’s personal interests. Another indicator of an addictive personality includes the need for stimulation. Someone who is restless and is in need of constant excitement may develop characteristics of an addictive personality. In the case of impulsivity, or rapid unplanned behavior without due regard for ramifications, decision-making abilities can be impacted. Poor impulse control can also invite the need for variety, influencing someone to seek out new habits. These habits may soon become compulsions or addictions.
Addictions, Compulsions, And The Addictive Personality
There are vital differences between compulsions and addictions; however, both can be influenced by the same underlying causes. For example, someone with an alcohol addiction may be trying to fill a void or temper anxiety. Someone with a compulsion may have underlying feelings of anxiety but may not have addictions or abuse substances.
The main differences between addictions and compulsions concern motivation, especially in regards to pleasure. Addictions often include and are motivated by pleasure (at least initially) while compulsions often lack pleasure. Someone who feeds their craving for an addictive substance is rewarded by dopamine, a chemical released once the brain is rewarded. Once this becomes a habit, he or she is now chasing a reward — which can be extremely difficult to stop.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse issues, the time to seek help is now. This is especially true when an addictive personality is involved, as any issues are likely to become worse over time — and possibly even replaced by addictions to stronger and more dangerous substances or behaviors. Contact a treatment provider today to find out what your treatment options are.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience