What Does it Mean to Have an Addictive Personality?

Why can some people use drugs and alcohol in moderation, but others become dependent? Why can some people stop after 2 glasses of wine with dinner, but others feel compelled to keep drinking? Drugs and alcohol are addictive substances, and people react differently to them. Some people who use drugs or alcohol do not become addicted. However, that does not mean there is no risk of addiction associated with each use.

So what sets apart people with addictions from others? The answer is that some people have addictive personalities, which make them more susceptible to addiction.

What is an Addictive Personality?

An addictive personality is a set of personality traits that make addiction more likely. Addictions can come in a wide range of forms, including drugs, alcohol, gambling, exercise, pornography and more. Uniting these addictions is the repeated use of pleasurable activities to cope with stress, pressure and conflict. Addicts use substances or activities to deal with the troubles of their daily lives. This can negatively impact their lives and personal relationships as an addict becomes dependent.

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Do I Have an Addictive Personality?

addictive personalities

It is estimated that 10-15% of the population has an addictive personality. This percentage of the population doesn’t know when to stop and has a more difficult time coping with drugs and alcohol. If you think you or a loved one may have an addictive personality, consider the following addictive personality traits. It may help you determine if it’s time to seek help.

Personality Traits of an Addictive Personality

Simply because you fit the description of several traits of an addictive personality does not necessarily mean that you have one. However, it may mean that you should watch your relationship with harmful substances and activities because you may be more prone to addiction. The following personality traits may be indicative of someone with an addictive personality.

Impulsive Behavior

Impulsive behavior means acting without thinking about the impact of your actions. It’s kind of like eating a large piece of cake when you’re on a diet or staying out drinking even when you have to get up early the next day. Though everyone succumbs to temptations sometimes, a person who engages in this type of behavior habitually is exhibiting impulsive behavior that can be indicative of an addictive personality.

Sensation Seeking

A second personality trait that may be indicative of someone with an addictive personality is sensation-seeking. This means a person is constantly seeking out new experiences – new flavors, new travel locations or new sources of adrenaline rushes such as extreme sports. People who are sensation-seeking may also be the first to try a form of psychoactive drugs. This constant desire for new experience can lead to more experimentation, and later abuse, of drugs and alcohol.

Valuing Nonconformity

Placing a high value on nonconformity can contribute to having an addictive personality. When combined with the achievement goals valued by society, this personality trait can lead to greater chance of addiction. If you have less of a desire to achieve goals valued by society, you may be less likely to notice when substance abuse or other forms of addiction begin to negatively impact personal, social or work life. Sometimes the value of nonconformity is an indicator of someone with an addictive personality.

Social Alienation

socially isolated girl

Valuing nonconformity sometimes comes with a tolerance for deviance and a sense of social alienation. This tolerance for deviance can mean individuals are more likely to come into contact with substances and behaviors frowned upon by society at large. A person who has more tolerance for deviance may be more likely to experiment with drugs, opening themselves up to the possibility of addiction.

If you lack a consistent social group or social connections, it may be difficult to develop long-lasting bonds. Lack of strong social bonds may lead to loneliness. It may also be more difficult to control impulses and adhere to commitments without steady social contracts. Thus, social alienation can contribute to an addictive personality in these ways.

Compulsive Behavior

The final personality trait often present in those with addictive personalities is compulsivity. Compulsive behavior refers to engaging in activities even when they may result in negative consequences. If you are already more likely to engage in “deviant” behavior due to an impulsive personality, sensation-seeking, placing value in nonconformity and a sense of social alienation, having a compulsive personality may make you even more likely to form an addiction.

What Does It Mean If You Have These Personality Traits?

If these addictive personality traits sound familiar, it may be indicative of someone who has an addictive personality. Many people exhibit one or more of these personality traits, but may not be prone to addiction.

However, it is the combination of these traits that leads to someone having an addictive personality. Someone who is sensation seeking may be more likely to try drugs, but if they are not very impulsive and have strong social connections, they may use only occasionally and within a controlled setting.

People who do not have a compulsive personality will be less likely to engage in activities that negatively impact their lives, even if they engage in these activities experimentally.

People who do fit this combination of personality traits, however, may have an addictive personality. This means they may be more prone to develop addictions to drugs, alcohol or other habit forming behaviors. These people may not be able to drink socially, but instead may feel compelled to have six more drinks after the first one.

If you or a loved one has an addictive personality, it is important to be aware that it may be easier to succumb to temptation and develop habits that can negatively impact daily life.

How to Deal with an Addictive Personality

Having an addictive personality does not necessarily mean that you are an addict. With awareness and work, you can manage an addictive personality and channel it into a positive life. Simply because you have these traits does not mean you will necessarily struggle with alcohol or substance abuse. Understanding how you react to addictive situations, you or your loved one can live an addiction-free life.

The first step in controlling an addictive personality is to admit to it. If you are prone to addiction, admit it to yourself so that you can understand why. After you come to this realization, you can learn to control it.

For example, if you find yourself engaging in pleasure-seeking behaviors and know you have an addictive personality, you can better understand the risks associated with those behaviors. You recognize that it’s more difficult for you than others to stop addictive behaviors.

Someone with an addictive personality may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stresses of life. But exhibiting signs of an addictive personality does not mean that you must succumb to addiction. Once someone is aware that he or she has an addictive personality, effort towards channeling that personality trait into positive actions becomes possible.

Don’t Substitute

positive balanced life

Be careful not to substitute one addiction for another. You may jump from one addiction to another without understanding the underlying cause of the addiction. With the absence of alcohol, some may find themselves turning to marijuana or other drugs. An addict may replace one drug with another. This does not solve the problem of addiction; it merely changes the abused substance without getting to the underlying issues fueling substance abuse.

In addition, substituting addictions is more than replacing the initial substance with other forms of drugs or alcohol. One study identified 11 relatively common behaviors that can be addictions, meaning that drugs and alcohol are not the only possible addictions. For example, an alcohol addiction can be replaced with a shopping addiction or compulsive eating.

A replacement addiction may come in the form of gambling or addictive personal relationships. This does not deal with the underlying problems of addiction and does not mean you are exhibiting a non-addictive behavior. Instead, an understanding of what is causing you to participate in this addictive behavior will help you to overcome it.

Understanding the underlying causes of your addiction may require outside help. Treatment programs can help you understand why you turned to substance abuse and why you form addictions. They can help you learn how to cope with the negative parts of your life without turning to addictive behaviors.

Benefits of an Addictive Personality

An addictive personality isn’t necessarily a bad trait. An awareness of the possibilities of negative consequences and troubling behaviors can actually be very positive. In fact, the personality traits of an addict can be challenged into positive activities and results. Some of the personality traits that make you more prone to having an addictive personality can also make you shine in the workplace and in your personal life.

Addiction can result from the repetition of pleasure-causing activities, such as drugs or alcohol. The ability to identify productive pleasure-causing activities could lead to positive results.
Addictive Personality Ask Your Self These Questions
Identifying these activities is a key way to channel an addictive personality into a positive direction. Again, this does not mean you should substitute one vice for another. A work or exercise addiction can negatively impact your health and personal life as well.

But you can channel compulsivity, impulsiveness and sensation seeking into positive results. Doing so can help you work harder, get in shape, make friendships and more.

An addictive personality can help you achieve your goals as long as you’re able to monitor your life for potential negative impacts. In fact, some experts say that the personality traits of an addict also make for great leaders and business people.

High Functioning Addicts

We tend to think of addicts as those who have hit rock bottom. Their lives have become so difficult that they have no other choice but to accept help for their addiction. However, high-functioning addicts with addictive personalities also exist. Their lives may be impacted by their addiction, though they may never hit rock bottom because they are able to maintain a job and a family life in spite of their addiction.

Maybe you know someone who fits this description. He or she may have an addictive personality and abuse drugs or alcohol but be able to maintain a day-to-day life. Perhaps he or she is a workplace leader who has taken big risks in order to achieve success. However, even these high-functioning addicts must deal with their problems eventually. The effects of substance abuse will eventually catch up with them if they do not seek help.

Someone who has an addictive personality may be tempted to channel the addictive behavior into the workplace. Though this may work for a while, it’s not an answer to managing addiction. Impulsive and compulsive behavior may put the addict’s career at risk, or even or the careers of fellow coworkers or employees at risk. Personal lives may also suffer due to addictive work behaviors.

Although there are some positive aspects to an addictive personality, it’s important to be careful and not to conflate this with becoming a high-functioning addict. The truth is that if you’re using addiction to cope with your problems, it will catch up with you.

It is important to deal with the underlying causes of addiction in order to live a complete and fulfilling life.


Contact 12 Keys Rehab

If you or someone you know is exhibiting addictive personality traits, don’t despair. You are not alone. With understanding, you can overcome any present addictions. Beyond this, you can also prevent new ones from forming.

With the help of compassionate professionals, you can learn to channel the traits that go along with an addictive personality into positive results. An addictive personality does not mean you are doomed to addiction. With awareness and support, you can live a healthy and fulfilling life that is separate from addiction.

Understanding the signs of an addictive personality can help you better understand how you may deal with potential addictions. It can help you identify why you or someone you know may be more susceptible to addictions than others. Understanding is the first step to living an addiction-free life.

If you are struggling with addiction, contact 12 Keys Rehab to get treatment and help today. The professionals at 12 Keys will help you learn how to live a healthy and productive life, regardless of your addictive personality. They can help you cope with the stresses of life and channel your personality traits into positive behaviors.

Call 800-338-5770 to get help now

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The Addiction Blog