What is an Addiction?
When you think of an addiction, what comes to mind? Maybe drugs, like opioids and marijuana, or even alcohol abuse. But addiction goes much further than substance and alcohol abuse. In fact, small parts of your everyday life can lead to an addiction – exercise, work, television, food, caffeinated beverages and shopping.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to describe addiction – it comes in many shapes and sizes. At its core, addiction involves any self-destructive, compulsive behavior. Although you do not intentionally seek addiction, you partake in a specific activity for the immediate relief it provides.
Characteristics That Influence an Addictive Personality
Over the years, research has examined how an individual’s personality can affect their chances of addiction. However, having a specific personality trait does not mean you will suffer from addiction. Only extremely high levels of these characteristics together indicate a potentially addictive personality – something that can be addressed early on.
The top three traits that increase your risk of addiction include impulsive, compulsive and sensation-seeking behaviors.
Driven to pursue new experiences and excitement, sensation seekers become easily bored without constant stimulation. You may love the feeling when your adrenaline is pumping, seeking thrills and taking risks. However, if not monitored carefully, these qualities can lead to experimenting with various substances to satisfy the intense sensations you crave.
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Acting on a whim without considering consequences is known as impulsive behavior. You may feel a loss of control and continue high-risk behaviors such as gambling, eating disorders, sex addiction, compulsive shopping and substance abuse. Giving into an impulse brings a sense of pleasure, but over time it may turn into guilt. When guilt occurs, it’s usually related to giving into your impulses and the damage caused by the impulse. To relieve feeling remorse, you may turn to drugs, alcohol or other dangerous risks.
A combination of the pursuit of rewards and repetition of ritualistic behaviors, compulsions offer a sense of relief from a stressful situation. Continually surrendering to an addiction comes at a cost – possibly your relationships, career, health and more. Compulsions disrupt your ability to quit a behavior that can cause you great harm in the long run.
Are You at Risk?
People are different and have unique personalities, which is why some are more at risk of developing an addiction than others. For example, you may be the type of person who thrives on adventure and trying out new things, but you normally think through situations and don’t act on impulse. In this instance, you probably have a lower chance of forming addictive habits.
Keep an eye out for any of your personal attributes that are associated with addictive personalities. Traits of people with addictions often include a combination of:
- Emotional instability
- Social alienation
- Lack of patience
- Mood swings
- Low self-esteem
An estimated 50 percent of those suffering from a personality disorder are diagnosed with substance addiction.
Recognizing and becoming aware of your own habits will reduce the chances of developing dangerous characteristics. If you come across a problem or harmful behavior, don’t try to hide it out of fear. Covering up an addiction will only last for so long, and if left untreated, can eventually spiral out of control.
Treating an Addictive Personality
If you or a loved one is showing signs of an addictive personality, you should seek treatment sooner rather than later. Treatment options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, will provide you with solutions for triggers, as well as explain any underlying factors that may play a role in your condition. Trying to manage addiction yourself may initiate substituting one behavior for another.
Fostering positive thoughts and actions will help you discover ways to overcome an addictive behavior.
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