The popular myth of an addictive personality leads many people grappling with addiction to question whether there are specific drug addict personality traits.
This is a nuanced issue as there are so many risk factors for addiction.
Broadly, some people can be considered genetically predisposed to substance abuse. According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), around half of your risk profile for addiction is based on genetic factors. Anyone with immediate family members who have experienced addiction is at heightened risk of developing substance use disorder.
For others, addiction unfolds in response to a traumatic event.
Early experimentation with alcohol or drugs can also make you more susceptible to developing an addiction in later life.
Beyond this, there are certain personality traits commonly associated with addiction, in addition to more general traits increasing the risk of addiction developing. We’ll highlight all of these today.
Addiction and Personality
While popular culture may perpetuate the concept of an addictive personality, this concept is flawed.
Most researchers in the addiction field advise against focusing on the concept of a generic addictive personality. This article published in Scientific American dispels the myth of a single personality type predestined to developing addiction.
Often, a string of seemingly random traits can conspire to lead someone to develop an addiction to illicit drugs. Data from SAMHSA’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 40 million adults in the US have substance use disorder. The more you understand about the risk factors for addiction, then, the stronger your defenses against developing substance use disorder (the clinical descriptor for drug addiction).
Common Traits of Addiction
Although there is not a single cause for addiction, some people are at heightened risk of developing an addiction to psychoactive substances. These drug addict personality traits include:
- Family history of substance abuse
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
Family history of substance abuse
Your genetic makeup plays a significant part in your risk profile for addiction. If you have a close family member with substance use disorder, research shows you have a higher chance of developing substance use disorder yourself.
According to this study, some parts of the human genome have been identified as directly connected to certain addictions.
Genetic predisposition to addiction does not necessarily cause addiction to develop, though. There are many complex factors that also play a role in the development of addictions.
Co-occurring mental health disorders
If you have a pre-existing mental health disorder, this can heighten your risk of developing an addiction.
Those with mental health disorders are more prone to abuse drugs, thus more likely to become addicted.
Some common mental health conditions that increase your risk profile for addiction include:
- Major depressive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Panic disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Psychotic disorders
Many people with undiagnosed mental health conditions self-medicate the symptoms with drugs, leading to the development of substance use disorder. Although self-medicating can offer some fleeting relief from symptoms, it serves no purpose beyond perpetuating the vicious cycle of addiction.
Addiction has some connection with a lack of impulse control, but this is not the only reason. As outlined, many genetic and environmental factors are involved in the development of drug addiction.
Poor impulse control can lead to addiction, but the same applies to those who are too rigid when it comes to managing impulses. Sometimes, substance use is a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive behavior patterns.
Resultantly, those who exhibit habitual behaviors with intense focus may be just as likely to develop substance use disorder as those who show an inability to control impulses.
Personality Traits of Drug Addicts
In addition to the above risk factors for addiction, the following personality traits are all associated with a heightened risk of substance use disorder:
- Low self-esteem
- Adventurous and risk-taking
- Inability to deal with stress
How you view yourself can dramatically impact the way you interact with others. Your self-esteem can also affect the way you view the world around you.
If you suffer from low self-esteem, you may feel as though you are unworthy of being happy and successful. This low self-worth and flawed thinking can adversely impact all areas of your life.
For many people with low self-esteem, using drugs can provide a solution, albeit only fleeting, for these negative feelings. Regrettably, substance abuse often leads to behaviors like lying, being manipulative, stealing, or neglecting responsibilities. This, in turn, leads to worsening self-esteem.
Low self-esteem comes about for many reasons, including abuse, neglect, or trauma. If you feel your self-esteem needs to improve, take positive steps to achieve this without resorting to substance abuse. Drug addiction will do nothing for your self-worth.
Another drug addict personality traits include Grandiosity. Grandiosity is an inflated and unrealistic sense of self-importance.
While many people view those exhibiting grandiose behavior as pretentious, grandiosity is frequently a defense mechanism for low self-esteem.
For many who display grandiose behaviors, this is due to an underpinning mental health condition like bipolar disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.
People with grandiose tendencies who go on to develop substance use disorder may feel that this is not problematic and that they will not become addicted like others. This flawed thinking can lead to the development of addiction if not checked.
Adventurous and risk-taking
People who like to take risks and exhibit poor impulse control are more likely to try drugs.
Risk-taking individuals have higher levels of dopamine in the brain, believed to lead some people to seek out more intense experiences to feel good. Using drugs directly impacts the dopamine system. As such, those with risk-taking personalities are more likely to try drugs and also more likely to develop drug addiction.
People who have nonconformist personality traits often spend lots of time ensuring they are different to others.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to self-destructive behaviors like drug abuse.
If you become addicted to drugs and you also have nonconformist tendencies, you should address this issue during treatment. Failure to do so can introduce additional challenges on your journey to sustained sobriety.
Inability to deal with stress
If you struggle to deal with stress in healthy ways, you might find yourself turning to drugs as a method of self-medicating life’s everyday stressors.
Learning how to cope with stress without resorting to substance abuse will help you avoid kickstarting a vicious cycle of addiction.
Overcome Drug Addiction at The District
To start the process of recovery from drug addiction, you’ll first need to stop using substances and detox. If you have a severe substance use disorder and feel you would benefit from a medically supervised detox, we can connect you with suitable local detox centers.
Most drug detox takes no more than 10 days, and this allows you to move beyond the physical aspect of addiction to attack the psychological aspect of substance use disorder.
Here at The District, we can help you combat drug addiction without needing to go to residential rehab if you feel that you have certain drug addict personality traits. Instead, you can engage with outpatient treatment, allowing you to remain anchored to your commitments while living at home or in a sober living community.
For those who need more structure and support than a standard outpatient program provides, we also offer intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs).
If you are addicted to opioids or heroin, there are several medications approved by the FDA that help reduce the intensity of cravings for substances and withdrawal symptoms.
Our gender-specific programs for drug addiction allow you to sharply focus on your recovery with minimal distractions.
In addition to the above evidence-based treatments, you can also access a variety of holistic therapies here at TDRC. We believe in a whole-body approach to recovery from drug addiction.
When you leave The District Recovery Community, our alumni program helps you stay in touch with your new sober network. We will also ensure you have a solid relapse management strategy in place, as well as the right level of aftercare.
To reclaim your life from drug addiction, take the first crucial step by reaching out to admissions at 844.287.8506.