Many people suffer from an addictive personality. However, not everyone who has an addictive personality is addicted to behaviors or substances commonly thought of as addictive, such as alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. And since people are incredibly diverse, there are a number of different characteristics of addictive personalities. Still, almost all addicts share some common traits. And, although many doctors and psychologists still debate the categorization, there are distinct traits that are usually signs that someone may have an addiction, be at risk for addiction, or simply have the type of personality that makes her more susceptible to addiction.
Two of the most common behaviors associated with addictive personalities are compulsive and antisocial behavior. First, compulsive personalities cause people to be unable to enjoy potentially addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol in moderation. They feel either completely in control or totally powerless, and will thus give in to any urge if they feel that they cannot remain away from it at all. Furthermore, those who feel compelled to repeat harmful behaviors or show an inability or unwillingness to stop once started may trend toward addiction. Second, people who often alienate themselves from others may turn to drugs or alcohol to substitute for bonds with other people. Alternately, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to alleviate their anxiety in social situations. In addition to these two common behaviors, addictive personality is also often marked by a difficulty in delaying gratification. People who have difficulty thinking about the long term consequences of their actions are more susceptible to developing an addiction.
Certain cognitive and emotional traits may also indicate an addictive personality. Insecurity is often a marker of someone at risk for addiction both because he may turn to addictive substances in order to deal with insecurity, or he may ultimately feel powerless to stop an addiction once started. Also, those who have difficulty dealing with stress may more quickly turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to alleviate stress in the short turn in order to deal with negative emotions. And, finally, those who have a tendency to feel that it is a good idea to substitute one vice for another may be more at risk for developing a serious addiction. These are people who tend to think of everything in extremes, such as being a workaholic during the day who turns to alcohol in order to relax in the evening.
Those who suffer from other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, are also at greater risk for developing addictions. They may turn to an addiction as a way to relieve their other problems. Those with depression may use drugs or alcohol to manage their emotions or they may use it to avoid dealing with deeper and difficult issues.
People who already have strong habitual attachments to socially acceptable behaviors, such as coffee drinking or watching excessive television, may be at risk for more serious addictions. Although there may be nothing wrong with certain "soft" addictions, an inability to control oneself in relation to relatively harmless activities may indicate a propensity to develop more serious addictions in the future. These individuals should be watchful of their behaviors, particularly in stressful or emotional situations.
If you are aware of the traits of addictive personality, you are in a better position to avoid the behaviors that lead to long-term addictions. Simply having these traits does not guarantee that you will become an addict. By learning to be aware of your own habits and tendencies, you can actively make choices that avoid repetitive and addictive behavior before it becomes an issue for which you need to seek professional help. Knowing what signs to look for may also help you recognize a problem in those you love and care about