Addiction is a mental disease which involves changes in the reward centers of the brain that lead to changes in the behavioral patterns, cognition and retention. This is the short definition of addiction according to The American Society of Addictive Medicine. Studies on this topic revealed there are many factors which lead to addictive behavior. Genetics, environmental factors and family history contribute to one’s risk of developing a substance abuse disease at one point in their life. These factors can be identified in one’s personality and they got the name addictive personality traits. According to psychologists about 15% of the population has addictive personality.
Here are some of these specific traits which lead to an increased risk of addiction.
Impulse control issues
Being impulse might be a sign of an addictive personality, as it involves taking decisions without proper consideration for the long-term consequences. Addicts take drugs without thinking of their future, so it’s easy to see the link between impulsive behavior and addiction. The lack of impulse control is going to take you in amazing situations and it’s a personality trait of adventurers, but it also has a downside as it might take you on the path of drug abuse.
High sensitivity to stress
It’s a wide-known fact that people tend to act irrational during stressful periods. Many people start abusing substances when they experience higher than usual stress levels and they need something to help them unwind and forget about everything. Most alcoholics started drinking during stressful periods, such as job loss, divorce or the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we choose stressful lives by taking a high-pressure job.
People who struggle with bipolar disorder or anxiety are prone to addictions due to brain chemistry imbalance, which causes them to perceive stress at higher levels than normal.
People who struggle with low self-esteem or depression can try to improve their self-image by turning to drugs. During the high, they will feel better about themselves, but then reality kicks in harder and they get the drug again, entering the cycle of addiction.
Substance abuse can lead to isolation, but isolation can also lead to substance abuse. Many introverts turn to alcohol to cope with social events, while people who focus on their work a lot might feel the need to turn to drugs to have more energy and be more productive. Isolation and low self-esteem often go hand in hand, creating the perfect breeding ground for addiction.
Lack of long-term goals
The lack of purpose is one of the addictive personality traits and can be found in both the overachiever who is always on top of everything and the lazy, carefree person who can’t seem to secure a job. The inability to find a goal for your life can lead to low self-esteem and addiction is just around the corner, as alcohol and drugs can temporarily relieve these feelings.
Of course this doesn’t mean that if you have all these personality traits you are an addict – they are just linked to higher risk of addiction.