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Addictive Personalities

Within each and every one of us lies the potential to become an addict. It is human nature to crave things that make us feel good. Those who fall prey to destructive addictions such as substance dependency, or addictions like gambling which can have a negative impact on the quality of life, often have certain personality traits that predispose them to compulsive habits.

An addictive personality disorder can be defined as a mental impediment that makes a person more predisposed to addictions. People with addictive personalities are very sensitive to stress and have problems handling pressure. Often lacking in self-esteem they may be lonely or easily influenced by others, often seeking peer-approval by participating in activities like smoking and drinking in order to ‘fit in.’ They may show impulsive behaviour such as extreme television watching, caffeine consumption or eating sweets and chocolate. They feel insecure in relationships and find it hard to make commitments with trust being a huge issue.

Mental Health

People suffering from addictive personality disorder often suffer from depression and anxiety and will manage their feelings and emotions by drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Addictive substances often stop or lessen neuroses, giving people with personality disorders a relief from emotional pain.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers are also predisposed to develop addictions, using the addiction as a way to relieve other problems. Already suffering from compulsions produced by fear or worry, the classic symptoms such as excessive washing, repeated checking and various nervous rituals may be reduced when a drug or alcohol habit takes over.

Addictive Personality Types

Many mental health professionals believe that identifying the most vulnerable personality types can pre-empt addictions from starting. They have identified five types of people who are susceptible to the lure of addictive behaviour.

  • Anxious or stressed types lack healthy coping skills and avoid problems by turning to gambling, alcohol and other quick fix methods of blocking out emotional pain.
  • Antisocial types feel they do not fit into society and behave in a defiant manner by lying and manipulating. They act on impulse to get instant satisfaction and do not feel remorse for their actions.
  • Immature types do not take responsibility for themselves and tend to stay tied to their parents. Their insecurities make forming friendships difficult resulting in isolation.
  • Passive-aggressive types look calm but inwardly they are filled with deep anger. Unable to express their feelings in a healthy way they instead resort to malicious behaviour masked with professions of concern.
  • Self-punitive types are aware of inner anger but fear that if it is unleashed someone may be hurt. These feelings are suppressed and addictive behaviour is used as a relief tool for inner tension.

Possessing the traits of an addictive personality does not mean that an individual will become an addict. Being aware of habits and tendencies allows the individual to make choices and avoid the behaviour leading to an addiction before it becomes an issue. Knowing the signs to look out for can also help with recognizing a problem in loved ones.

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