For a lot of people, the question as to whether there is such thing as an addictive personality, and whether there really are specific factors of a person’s physiology or mentality that make them more likely to develop an addict, are huge sources of interest.
When thinking about such ideas, it is important to start by thinking about what an addiction actually is, as addiction is a very complex disorder, and so it is important to consider such things as: what is the difference between a habit and an addiction, is there a link between genetics and addictive personality, is there a link between impulsivity and the addictive personality, and many more factors.
However, let’s simplify this question down, and think about whether scientific research actually supports the idea of an addictive personality; and, if it does, then how can we use this information when it comes to relapse prevention and knowing the early signs of dependence and addiction.
Where Does A Habit End And An Addiction Begin?
Understanding the distinction between an addiction and a habit is vital in most discussions about addiction. A lot of individuals develop various habits throughout the course of their lives.
These habits could be simply drinking a cup of coffee every morning, reading a book or watching tv before bed, playing sports at the weekend, or maybe playing video games with friends.
Most of the habits that we develop throughout our daily lives can be utterly harmless; however, it is when a habit becomes an addiction that you need to be wary.
Unlike a habit, addiction is characterised by the fact that it is impossible or difficult to keep under control.
It is at the point where consumption of a substance, or an activity, starts to dominate all areas of your life and takes priority over your physical and psychological health, your relationships with family and friends, as well as your financial and employment prospects. And, over time, these compulsions will only get worse and even more difficult to control.
Addiction In Relation To “The Big Five Personality Traits”
According to current scientific research, there is a suggestion that there is not one single definitely factor which contributes to an “addictive personality,” rather, there are certain characteristics and personalities that may increase the likelihood of a person developing an addiction.
The Big Five Personality Traits, sometimes termed the OCEAN model, theoretically isolates five primary facets in terms of human personality — and these five are: neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, extroversion and conscientiousness.
According to UK Addiction Treatment Centre’s website, “Many studies have analysed the links between the big five characteristics and addiction.”
So, let’s go through and have a look at each one and see which ones may influence addictive tendencies.
Neuroticism — often defined as emotional instability. People with a mental tendency for neuroticism can frequently find it tricky to “switch off” and can be open to irritability and self-criticism. However, on average, studies tend to show that this personality trait does not add to the likelihood of developing an addiction.
Extroversion — extroverts, as opposed to introverts, enjoy going out and seek social interactions. They are confident and enjoy large groups. Studies have shown that extroversion can lead to social media addiction and compulsive buying, while introversion can lead to alcohol addiction as a result of being socially anxious. Furthermore, introverts can also find it harder to reach out to other people, which can cause difficulty when it comes to getting professional recovery help.
Agreeableness — agreeableness is frequently linked with what we consider being generally “nice,” be it a person who is polite, generous, altruistic, etc. People who are more Agreeable tend to not develop addictions; however, in tandem, substance abuse and alcoholism can often be linked to low agreeableness.
Openness To Experience — as you may probably guess, this trait is linked to how likely a person to trying something new. Unexpectedly, perhaps, those willing to take positive risks are at less of a risk to develop a drug addiction or an alcohol addiction. Although, those who take their thrill-seeking too far are more likely to develop an addiction according to certain studies.
Impulsivity — this is applicable to those of us who act without much thought for consequence. And, as a result of this, these people will find it much more appealing to give in to their immediate urges over aiming towards a long-term goal that may benefit their lives better — such as that of recovery.
While these personality factors may increase a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction, according to some studies, this should in no way cause you to think that all is lost.
Rather, you can use this information to make sure that you are more aware of your habits and routines so that you can avoid developing an addiction.
Know The Early Warning Signs Of Dependence
With this information in mind, let’s look at some questions that you can ask yourself in order to be more alert to the possibility of developing an addiction.
When it comes to addiction, spotting the signs early can be invaluable, and so if you are finding yourself using drugs, be them recreationally or prescription-based, or consuming alcohol, then bear these questions in mind:
- Do drugs or alcohol occupy your mind when you are not consuming them?
- Do you find it difficult or easy to turn down alcohol or drugs?
- Are drugs or alcohol taking priority over alternative aspects of your daily life?
- Has the intensity/quantity/severity of your drug use or alcohol use changed?
- How does not being able to get a hold of alcohol or drugs make you feel?
- Does something or someone interfering with your drinking or drug-taking make you react negatively?
- Do you feel mentally and/or physically different when you are not consuming drugs or alcohol?
- Have you found yourself minimising or denying the quantity of your drink or drug intake?
- Have you found that you have been hiding or lying about your drug or alcohol consumption?
- Do you find yourself needing to justify why you need to drink or use drugs to yourself or those around you?
If your answers of the above questions are concerning you, then the next step should be to talk to a specialist about these feelings — perhaps with someone at Asana Lodge.
Making sure that you are always alert to your habits, and identifying when you may becoming dependent on a substance or activity, should always be somewhere in your mind.
Hopefully, this information will help you either today or in the future, and if you have any further questions, please call Asana Lodge today on 01908 489 421.Back to all posts