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Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

The concept of an “addictive personality” has been a subject of debate among researchers and clinicians. While the term “addictive personality” is not an official medical diagnosis, it refers to individuals who may possess certain personality traits that make them more susceptible to engaging in addictive behaviours. 


But, it’s essential to recognise that addiction is influenced by multiple factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental factors (such as exposure to substances or a social environment that promotes substance use), psychological factors, and the presence of mental health conditions can all contribute to the development of drug and alcohol addiction.


Although having an addictive personality does not automatically lead to drug and alcohol addiction, it is associated with an increased risk of developing substance abuse problems. Certain traits commonly associated with an addictive personality may increase the risk of subsequently developing substance abuse problems, such as:


  • Impulsivity — characterised by acting without forethought or consideration of potential consequences. Individuals with high impulsivity may be more prone to engaging in impulsive and risky behaviours, including substance abuse, as they are less likely to weigh the long-term negative outcomes of their actions. 


  • Sensation-seeking — refers to a desire for novel, thrilling experiences and a willingness to take risks to obtain them. This trait may drive individuals to experiment with substances and engage in other addictive behaviours to achieve heightened stimulation or excitement. 


  • Low self-esteem — marked by feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-worth, can lead individuals to seek temporary relief or escape through substance use, ultimately developing a reliance on drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.


We asked Danielle  Byatt, an addiction counsellor and treatment director of Step by Step Recovery, a residential rehab based in Essex, for her opinion.


“Addictive behaviours and substance addiction are associated with more than just personality traits. While having an addictive personality may increase the risk of engaging in addictive behaviours, substance use disorder (SUD) is far more complex and can not be solely attributed to an addictive personality.”


Understanding Addictive Behaviours


Addictive behaviours can be perplexing, as we often associate addiction with substances like alcohol and nicotine. However, addiction extends beyond substances, and addictive behaviours have long been a topic of interest in psychiatry and psychology. 


Understanding addiction is crucial for effective prevention and treatment, whether its substance abuse or non-substance-related behaviours. This article delves into the different types of addictive behaviours and explores their relationship with drug and alcohol addiction. 


Addictive behaviours encompass a range of activities that can become compulsive and difficult to control, leading to negative consequences in various aspects of life. These behaviours activate the brain’s reward centre, particularly the dopamine system. They can serve as a means to enjoyment or as a distraction, often used to cope with difficult emotions and circumstances. Examples of addictive behaviours include gambling, gaming, shopping, internet use, sex, and eating disorders.


To better understand addictive behaviours, experts categorise them as behavioural addictions, which differ from substance addictions. These disorders, however, share common symptoms and diagnostic criteria with substance addictions, such as the inability to control preoccupation and negative impacts on various aspects of life.


 Addiction Treatment and Rediscovering Life

Recovery from addiction goes beyond simply abstaining from certain behaviours or substance use. It involves rediscovering a fulfilling and meaningful life that provides alternative rewards for the brain. Engaging in activities and pursuing goals that bring joy, purpose, and a sense of accomplishment can help rewire your brain’s reward system and support long-term recovery.


In the journey of overcoming addiction, it is crucial to seek support and explore available treatment options. Various resources and programs are designed to assist individuals in their recovery process. These may include multiple therapeutic approaches, such as outpatient addiction treatment, counselling, support groups, and addiction treatment in residential rehab centres. These provide the necessary tools and coping skills to navigate the challenges of overcoming addiction.


Additionally, coping with stress is an important aspect of addiction recovery. Learning healthy ways to manage stress can help prevent relapse and maintain long-term sobriety. Developing effective stress management techniques, such as practising mindfulness, regular exercise, and cultivating a strong support network, can contribute to overall well-being and enhance recovery.


By incorporating these strategies and approaches, you can break free from the grips of addiction and rebuild your life on a foundation of health, purpose, and fulfilment. Rediscovering life beyond addiction is a journey that requires commitment, support, and a willingness to explore new experiences and opportunities. 


Below are several helplines and addiction support services that can help you find the right resources and become free from the constraints of addiction.


  • The NHS offers outpatient addiction therapy and can help you get into a residential rehab centre.
  • Step by Step Recovery provides a residential rehab centre in Essex and outpatient addiction treatment sessions. Call 0800 170 1222 for free, no-obligation support and advice on addiction treatment choices.  
  • Alcohol Change UK  offers assistance, support, and guidance on alcohol use disorder (AUD).

  • Narcotics Anonymous provides meetings held in person or online, giving support and advice on substance use disorder (SUD).

  • FRANK provides help, support, and guidance regarding substance use disorder (SUD) and can help you locate the Local Free Addiction Treatment Services Helpline at 0300 123 6600 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Addaction is a free web chat support and assistance for substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction concerns.


  • Families Anonymous offers guidance and support groups for carers, relatives and friends assisting someone with a substance use disorder (SUD).


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