With much speculation surrounding the trait, having an addictive personality has been seen in various ways in the medical profession throughout the years. Some people believe that an addictive personality is nothing but an idea and a myth, while others believe that struggling with it is a very real challenge that a person must confront. The term “addicted” has been used so haphazardly throughout the years that it may be difficult to realize when a person is truly struggling. Having an addictive personality is possible and there are many factors that can go into obtaining one.

Addictive Personality

Having an addictive personality can be shown in different ways. Some ways that can determine if someone is displaying addictive behaviors is through the excessive need to do a particular action constantly. Some of these can include:

  • Smoking
  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Overspending
  • Playing video games
  • Porn viewing
  • Overeating
  • Hoarding
  • Overworking
  • Drug misuse

What is an Addictive Personality?

An addictive personality may not be a diagnosed condition like depressionor anxiety disorders, but it is still a condition that alters a person’s mind and makes everyday life difficult. Having an addictive personality takes individuals away from their friends and families because of their dire need to engage in unhealthy and excessive activities. 

Addictive Personality Definition

Mark D. Griffiths, Ph. D., a behavioral addiction professor at Nottingham Trent believes that individuals can have a healthy excessive enthusiasm that can add to one’s life, whereas an addiction takes away from that joy. Griffiths also believes that in order for an addiction to be classified as one the following qualifications must be present:

  • An overriding preoccupation with the behavior
  • Conflict with other activities and relationships
  • The appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the activity can not be experienced
  • Increase in tolerance of the substance
  • Use of the behavior in question alters the person’s mood 

Michael Weaver, M.D., medical director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at the University of Texas Health Center at Houston reminds the public that an addictive personality is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis. Weaver believes that the genetic makeup an individual possesses, their environment and their past addiction history are major factors to having an addictive personality.

Addictive Personality Traits

There is no medical exam that can be taken to figure out if someone possesses an addictive personality. Instead, it’s important for individuals and their loved ones to pay attention to their daily behaviors.

Any kind of activity that makes a person’s dopamine levels increase drastically can be a sign that someone is becoming addicted to that act. Actions such as driving fast, having sexual flings, gambling, doing drugs and taking dangerous risks can show that a person is itching for a sense of thrill.

Speaking of thrill, feeling the need to experience the exact same kind of rush over and over again can show that a person has an addictive personality. This is seen a lot with individuals who struggle with an alcohol or drug addiction. A tolerance is built up to the substance the person is misusing and they feel the need to consume larger amounts to obtain the same kind of buzz they experienced when they first had it.

Signs of an Addictive Personality

Individuals struggling with an addictive personality can show a variety of characteristics. The National Academy of Sciences found that there was no particular number of psychological characteristics that make up every addiction, but there are some common elements that are present within each addiction case.

Behaving impulsively is one of the major characteristics of having an addictive personality. For example, a person who has an addiction to buying things may find something they don’t need and buy it when they have no use for it, regardless of if they have the finances for it. The same thing can go for a person who is addicted to gambling and cannot stop playing games even once they’ve already lost their money.

Another sign can be when a person becomes very antisocial. Their time becomes solely about the action they have become addicted to, and they cannot function without doing so. They have cut themselves off from friends and family who are not in support of their behavior, so they choose to spend time by themselves.

The amount of stress a person experiences can also be a sign of an addictive personality. Individuals will be in constant distress when they are not doing the action they have become addicted to doing. They are in a constant stage of panic, and are not sure how to continue on with their lives if they aren’t engaging in their preferred behavior.

Do I Have an Addictive Personality?

There are many factors that can contribute to having an addictive personality. One of the main aspects of addictive personalities that is widely agreed upon throughout the medical community is that it can be genetic. A study that compared 861 pairs of identical twins and 653 pairs of fraternal twins showed that identical twins were more likely to obtain an addiction up to 60 percent more than fraternal twins. Another study also revealed that children who have an immediate family member who struggles with an addiction are eight times more likely to develop an addiction themselves.

Another factor to consider is the state of one’s mental health. If an individual deals with anxiety, depression or any kind of stress disorder, people may develop addictions to things that can increase their moods during the activity. For example, someone may experience a rush of excitement and happiness when they engage in sexual intercourse or a bit of gambling. Or those who are more nervous may become addicted to depressants that can calm their nerves and mind momentarily such as alcohol or marijuana.

The environment a person is accustomed to can also contribute to an addictive personality forming. There’s no way to exhibit any kind of addictive behavior if an individual isn’t exposed to the addictive substance or actions to begin with. Therefore, the people a person surrounds themselves with can influence addictive behaviors to various substances or actions.

Other ways to determine if an individual struggles with an addictive personality is if they do any of the following:

  • Lie about their medications and behavior
  • Claim the actions or substances are healthy and necessary
  • Medications and behaviors are used to soothe discomforting situations, regardless of the negative effects
  • Feelings of guilt are experienced after indulgence
  • Financial struggles are experienced in order to support the behavior
  • Continual use of the behavior is used to avoid possible withdrawal symptoms
  • Are unable to quit on their own
  • The amount of time a person  spends on their behavior or medication has increased
  • Continue taking the substance or persuing the behavior regardless of the potential dangers

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders believes that with two or three of these symptoms, addictive tendencies are most likely experienced. If any more than five are, a person can have a severe addictive personality and should seek by medical professionals.

If you or a loved one believe that you are experiencing an addiction to alcohol or drugs, The Recovery Village can give you the opportunity to recover. For more information on our various programs and locations, call one of our representatives. Each call is free and confidential. Start your journey to recovery today.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.