In clinical practice I come across many individuals who struggle with one addiction or another. These can range from particular substances like tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, illicit drugs, prescription medication and food, to particular activities such as gambling, pornography, shopping, exercise, and even to work. They can fairly well disguised by that person and not particularly impacting on their lives in general. Every addiction at some point will start to affect a person’s relationships, physical and mental health, and overall well-being.
Could You Have an Addictive Personality?
I often get asked whether someone could have an addictive personality. The answer to this question is possibly. Current research suggests that there is not one type of personality that exists that is particularly predisposed to addiction. Saying that, there are factors that can lead someone to addiction include a combination of certain psychological, social, biological, and relational factors. In clinical practice those individuals I encounter who are more likely to become addicted to a substance or behaviour usually have one or more of the following:
- Suffer from poor self esteem
- Suffer from anxiety and/or depression
- Have heightened stress and lack coping skills
- Have experienced trauma especially childhood trauma
- Display a level of impulsivity
- Have a parent or other close family member, partner, or someone else in their immediate social circle, who is regularly engaged in a particular addictive substance or behaviour.
So although there is not one addictive personality type per se, if you notice that you have developed an addiction to one particular substance or behaviour then this suggests perhaps you have factors underlying your psychology or physiology make-up that means you are susceptible to developing other addictions. The caveat to this is that if those factors were identified and dealt with in a healthy way then addictions may be able to become a thing of your past. Let us explore what some of the steps to overcoming addiction might involve.