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The term “addictive personality” has become a frequent part of discussions, yet most people widely misunderstand it or use it incorrectly. Most people relate it to high-profile celebrities, rock stars, and actors and actresses, adding even more to the misconception. In reality, anyone could develop an addictive personality disorder, depending on their personality traits and the characteristics of certain types.

Most people can walk into a clothing shop, buy that one pair of jeans they have been planning to get for a month and walk out without any distractions. However, a few find it next to impossible to leave the market without buying something else any time they go to a mall. Similarly, while one person easily stops after having a beer or two in a pub, others have their thoughts focused on the next time they will get to drink alcohol. These people who struggle to move past these potentially addictive traits are now known to have addictive personalities.

Ad addictive personality compiles a hypothetical set of personality traits that makes someone susceptible to acquiring an addiction. While the term has recently gained much popularity among the masses, the concept remains controversial. At present, there is no consistent evidence that supports the existence of an addictive personality disorder.

All personalities, including an addictive personality, are complex. In reality, none of these personalities singlehandedly makes a person more prone to addiction than others. Some of them seem to increase the possibility; remember that addiction is a complex disorder of the brain that results from a combination of various factors. For example, genetics seem to play a huge role in determining one’s susceptibility to addiction. Still, at the same time, other factors like environment, family history, upbringing, drug availability, and socioeconomic status also contribute to the risk.

While the exact definition may vary, the term addictive personality suggests that individuals with specific clusters of personality traits are more likely to acquire an addiction at some point in life. It also indicates that those with this personality type repetitively engage in pleasurable actions and continue to choose them over other more important activities. Such people supposedly have a much higher risk of developing addictions to gambling, sex, food, alcohol, shopping, and other substances.

While there is no consensus about how to know if you have an addictive personality, some traits associated with it include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Mood swings
  • Insecurity
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Irritability
  • Poor coping skills
  • Not conforming to social norms
  • Selfish behaviors
  • Thrill-seeking

Critics are generally against labeling someone with an addictive personality no matter how many potential traits they display. Not only are such labels lacking evidence-based support, but they also promote the notion that people who develop addicts are all the same. This concept adds to the stigmatization and marginalization of people battling addictions.

The critics of the term “addictive personality” believe this concept is a myth that negatively contributes to mental health stigma. Its main problem is that the term takes a very complex and multifaceted issue, reducing it down to a simplistic explanation. The critics are also of the view that the concept of an addictive personality can:

Make people underestimate their risk

People may wrongfully believe that because they do not display the typical signs of an addictive personality, they are not at risk of developing an addiction ever in life. Due to this underestimation, they are only at an increased risk of acquiring this disorder.

Add to the negative stereotypes about individuals with addictions

The concept of the addictive personality also stigmatizes people battling addictions, forcing other people to believe that they carry a certain set of negative traits.

Reduce the motivation to change

If people are led to believe that their underlying addiction is due to their personality, they may end up reducing their self-efficacy. Such people may also assume that they are more prone to developing addictions from the beginning and that there is little that they can do to overcome or prevent them.

Instead of focusing on personality traits to determine addiction risk, observing and examining your daily behaviors might be more useful. This is particularly true for people who tend to be at a higher risk of acquiring an addiction due to some of the factors mentioned above.

Some common behaviors and habits that directly increase the risk of adopting an addiction include:

Comfort Eating

Comfort eating is a common habit that people use to make themselves feel better when they are stressed, disappointed, or overwhelmed. While comfort eating may not be harmful if done now and then, it may become a habit and contribute to binge eating or food addiction.

Using Alcohol to Socialize

Socializing is one of the biggest reasons that heavy drinkers use to justify their overconsumption of alcohol. A glass of wine is one of the best and easiest ways to lower inhibitions and have a good time with friends. However, alcohol can also become the only way to socialize, leaving people anxious or bored in situations where others are sober.  

Hyperconnection

Checking your social media accounts every hour, surfing the internet the minute you have extra time, or never letting your cell phone out of your reach may seem like normal activities in today’s life. However, they can quickly worsen to the point of acquiring internet addiction. Such people who are hyperconnected to the internet may also risk developing shopping and gambling addictions.

Replacing Intimacy with Sex

Constantly seeking sexual gratification and arousal easily distances a person from their partners. The repetitive indulgences force them to lose themselves in the sensations of the sexual experience instead of paying attention to their partner’s feelings.

Buying Things to Feel Better

There can be multiple reasons why a person may overshop. However, for compulsive shoppers, the thrill lies in the boost they get when they think about purchasing new shoes, new clothes, and new gadgets and in the belief that these things will make them better people. In reality, however, the object becomes worthless as soon as they purchase them.

Self-Medicating With Drugs

Trauma, pain, and difficulties with sleep are some of the reasons why people may resort to using drugs. Some of these medications seem to provide temporary relief; however, in the long run, they may also significantly increase the risk of getting addicted.

Using Marijuana to Relax

Anxiety or increased tensions are two major reasons why people may smoke a joint at the end of a stressful day. The problem with this habit is that weed or marijuana possesses a rebound effect that adds to the underlying anxiety once its temporary relaxation wears off. Moreover, the effects of marijuana may also interfere with their motivation to do things while putting them at risk of acquiring severe psychological issues.

If you are worried about your risk of acquiring an addiction based on your habits or behaviors, there are some things you can do to manage these problematic signs.

Practice self-care

For instance, instead of seeking comfort in overeating, nurture yourself by engaging in restorative activities, such as taking a relaxing bath, meditating, or getting a good night’s sleep.

Alcohol-free socialization

Instead of relying on alcohol to connect with others, find common hobbies or interests. As everyone around you continues to drink, learn how to restrain yourself and carry on enjoying alternative activities.

Building strong relationship

Listen to your partner, visit your friends often, and confide in your loved ones to get over the daily life stressors instead of coping with them through negative behaviors like drinking, shopping, or using drugs.

Limiting screen time

Limit your non-work screen time to less than two hours per day. Make sure to switch off your mobile phone, tablets, and laptops at least one hour before your usual bedtime.

Effective stress management

Stress management is one of the primary reasons why individuals resort to different substance and behavioral addictions. Instead of relying on these negative habits, try to look for healthier methods of relaxation and stress management.

Build yourself up

Avoid bolstering your ego with materialistic possessions and work on different strategies to build self-esteem.

Seek help when necessary

If you are struggling with an underlying mental health issue, you may consider getting professional help. While some of them may never go away permanently, it is certainly possible to keep them under control without affecting your overall quality of life.

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