The word “addiction” means something quite different to many people. Scientists are attempting to determine what leads a person to develop an addiction, whether it is to elicit drugs and alcohol, all the way to shopping or food. The science of addiction is in its infancy, but several researchers agree on two key points:
- Performing the addictive behavior, be it pulling the handle on a slot machine or popping a prescription drug, releases a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The release of dopamine is triggered when a person falls in love and creates a feeling of euphoria. Scientists believe the same chemical is released when the addict partakes of his drug of choice.
- There are several traits that contribute to a person’s predisposition toward an addictive personality. These are the signs that you are more likely to have an addictive personality, and are crucial to recognize in yourself if you want to seek real help.
If you feel you are suffering from any addictive personality traits, it’s crucial to learn the signs and symptoms and how to seek professional help.
Addictive Personality Traits
- Depression – anxiety and predisposition to depression are key symptoms of an addictive personality disorder. The person feels their life is too difficult to handle, thus leading to and justifying the addiction. For many teens and adolescents, a period of severe stress or transition can trigger additive personality traits and lead to the abuse of alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism.
- Instant Gratification – a person afflicted with addictive personality traits tends to avoid setting long-term goals in place of satisfying themselves in the moment. The addict sees no sense in achieving pleasure from long-term goals, when his drug of choice provides instant gratification, right there and then.
- Inability to Cope – the inability to cope with stressful situations, whether they’re minor or severe, is a key sign of an addictive personality. The addict would rather indulge in their drug of choice in order to escape their reality, which they cannot or are simply unwilling to deal with.
- Swapping Addictions – a patient with addictive personality traits will often swap one bad behavior for another. For instance, often in rehab those with alcoholic personality traits or a drug addiction will take up smoking to replace their previous habit. The same theory holds true of a shopping addict that keeps away from the mall and instead begins obsessively eat.
- Antisocial personality – a person suffering from antisocial personality disorder feels isolated from society, which often leads them to find peace in addiction. The issue with antisocial personality is two-fold. It not only predisposes a person to develop addictive personality traits; it also keeps them from seeking help. It’s easier for the afflicted to fall further into their addiction, where they feel comfortable and secure, than to seek help.
- Impulse Control – the impulse control issue can be as minor as purchasing a television on the spur of the moment to taking a new form of drug the person knows is extremely dangerous or highly addictive.
- Intimacy Issues – issues with intimacy and addictive personality types go hand-in-hand. The addict cannot feel true intimacy with another person, leading them to indulge in their addiction.
- Self-Monitoring – self-monitoring refers to a person heightened sense of social responsibility. The addict will change their personality to fit the social situation, which makes feelings of anxiety and depression even worse.
Seeking help for addictive personality traits isn’t always simple, or even possible, especially if the patient is also suffering from an anti-personality disorder. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, and want to seek professional help, it’s best to locate a therapist that specializes in treating addictive personality types. If you’re a shopping addict, join a support group or seek a therapist that deals with this specific issue. If you’re currently seeing a therapist, ask for a referral or to point you toward a legitimate support group.
If you’re suffering from addictive personality traits, don’t take that first step into the recovery process alone. Your friends and family members are the best source of support and comfort. It might seem difficult to share your affliction with those close to you, but it’s a crucial piece of the successful recovery puzzle.
Ricky Stanton writes on behalf of www.4rehabilitation.com, and has over 10 years of experience working with many different addictive personality types and those with alcoholic personality traits in an inpatient drug rehab environment.