Understanding Addictive Personality

Like other types of medical conditions, being prone to substance abuse has several internal and external risk factors. One of these risk factors is having an addictive personality. What does having an addictive personality mean? Is there a way to treat an addictive personality disorder? Read to find out more.

The question often stands–is having a substance abuse disorder a problem of nature or nurture? Do people get addicted because it is in their genes or circumstances in their environment that trigger them to do so?

Risk Factors of Addiction

The answer is not so simple. For many, having an addiction is both caused by internal and external risk factors. According to an article in Healthline, the common risk factors of addiction are the following:

  • Environment: A person who has a substance abuse disorder often has a dysfunctional or stressful environment which causes them to use drugs and alcohol as a means to cope. In other instances, people in the environment such as friends and family who also have addictions may influence someone with their condition.
  • Type of drug: There are some types of drugs that are highly addictive compared to others. For example, heroin is a highly addictive illicit substance that may cause someone to progressively suffer from addiction at the first dose. Substances such as cannabis or inhalants may take more time to cause an addiction.
  • Age: Early substance use is directly linked to the severity of addictions. For example, teenagers who experiment with drugs and alcohol are more likely to suffer from heavy use of substances later in life.
  • Gender: For some reason, men are more prone to substance use disorders, although women are more likely to develop the condition faster than men.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical conditions make people prone to addictions. People who suffer from chronic pain, mental health disorders, and other related illnesses may require them to take some prescription drugs that can be habit-forming. This results in drug tolerance, dependence, and eventually spiral down into an addiction.
  • Genetics: Whether it’s personality, body sensitivity, or metabolic reaction to substances, genetics also plays a big role in a person’s addiction problem. Mental health disorders that cause people to use substances may also be hereditary in nature.

As we dig deep into the internal factors of addiction, one overlooked cause of developing substance use disorders is through having an addictive personality. As you read further, you will understand what is an addictive personality disorder, what are the addictive personality traits, and how to overcome an addictive personality.

What Is An Addictive Personality?

While some people can drink alcohol, take in a few packs of cigarettes, or enjoy a little bit of marijuana during parties without a problem, others can quickly get hooked with substances even at their first try. You may have heard about a friend, a co-worker, or even public figures who always run into trouble because of their persistent drug or alcohol habit. Upon hearing the news about them, you may have also heard the term “addictive personality” as their potential problem.

What does addictive personality mean? Addictive personality, in essence, is a type of personality that is prone to substance abuse. Researchers have hypothesized that there are many reasons as to why some people have an addictive personality and others do not, but they believe that it is a combination of the different factors.

Now is the time to seek help. Call us today.


What Causes an Addictive Personality?

  • Genetic component: You may have asked the question, “Is an addictive personality genetic?” The simple answer is yes. There is some genetic component to why some people are more susceptible to drug abuse, although it is not the sole reason why people spiral into addiction. It is likely that a person has a genetic factor in their substance use when other blood-related family members also suffer from addictions.
  • External influences: If genetics is acquired, addictive personality also has an external component. This means that developing this type of personality is possible if you live in an environment where addictions are common, or there are certain triggers that cause you to take substances.

Perhaps you’ve come to this page because you’re wondering, “Do I have an addictive personality?” To better understand the signs of an addictive personality disorder, there are some of the symptoms you may want to look out for.

Addictive Personality Symptoms

How do you know if you have an addictive personality? An addictive personality is not an official psychiatric diagnosis. However, this term is often used a lot because it is theorized that there are certain personality profiles that are common to people who end up having addictions. What does it mean to have an addictive personality? Here are some of the character traits of people who are described to have an addictive personality.

Someone who is risk-taking

Although this may not necessarily be a bad thing, risk-takers are more prone to having an addictive personality. People who would go all-in when it comes to money bets, those who would not hesitate in dares and those who are not embarrassed to do outrageous things in public are the types who may be prone to substance abuse.

People have different levels of risk tolerance. However, risk tolerance should be coupled with a logical assessment if the decision is worth-taking. People who are risk-taking and have an addictive personality may go overboard and often have difficulties weighing the negative consequences of their actions.

Someone who has multiple addictions

Aside from having a risk-taking attitude, those who have an addictive personality often suffer from multiple addictions. Whether it’s drinking with smoking or vaping, the use of multiple substances is common to them. To understand what causes addictive personality and their multiple substance use, we must first take a look at their inner traits.

Since these people are risk-takers, they often have the mindset of “I have done one thing, might as well do them all”. After trying a single drug, they may enjoy the sensations of using it, which leads them to just ‘go all in’, and try everything as well.

Someone who loves excitement

Some people get scared or stressed easily. They aren’t the type to go crazy on amusement park rides, won’t go skydiving or bungee jumping. However, people who have an addictive personality may be the opposite of these people–they crave excitement. They want to push their own limits and often try to do things that other people won’t.

They may be into extreme sports, would perform death-defying acts, or just simply be risky in their activities because they live for the excitement. It makes them feel alive. The same can be said for their use of substances. Although some of them are aware that it can be harmful, it is possible that they abuse drugs or alcohol because of the thrill it brings them.

Someone who is impulsive

When people act on impulse, it often results in negative consequences. This does not deter someone with a highly addictive personality. They may think of something they want to say or do, and they do it right away. They are known for last-minute changes, decisions, and actions which are done in the spur of the moment.

People who are impulsive are said to act based on their emotions, and those with an addictive personality are more likely to have this trait as well. They may use drugs or alcohol whenever they feel like it, without weighing in if it would result in something negative in the long run.

Someone who has volatile relationships

An addictive personality is also linked to having volatile relationships with others. It seems like addictive personality and relationships don’t mix well–often partners who have this personality type may be impulsive on saying words that they don’t mean. They may also find themselves making heartbreaking decisions that would hurt their loved ones. Some signs of having volatile relationships are:

  • Any form of abuse (physical, verbal, emotional)
  • On-and-off status
  • Lack of communication
  • Threatening to leave or do something harmful

To add to this, the influence of substances may also bring them a distorted frame of mind. They may experience fits of anger, anxiety, or depression. These mental health issues also add to the impulsive nature of a person who has an addictive personality in relationships.

Someone who has low self-esteem

On the first portion of the spectrum, people with an addictive personality may be confident risk-takers. Along the other side, some sufferers may be quite different in their addictive personality types–they have low self-esteem and are the types who would easily give up when life’s challenges come about.

According to the addictive personality book by Craig Nakken, there are also cultural influences that bring about addictions. Some of these cultural influences also affect a person’s self-esteem, so much that they are pushed to using substances to cope. For example, someone who has been using drugs for quite some time may be ashamed to come forward due to the cultural stigma. They have low self-esteem and do not believe that they can recover, which causes them to remain in their condition.

These are most of the major signs on how to know if you have an addictive personality.

Take The First Step Towards Recovery

Talk to a Intake Coordinator

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Addictive Personality Treatment

If you are trying to find out how to deal with an addictive personality, do not despair. There is hope–and help available for you. Addictive personality disorder treatment is often a combination of various medical and therapeutic approaches to help overcome this condition.

If you are discovering that you have an addictive personality coupled with a substance abuse problem, here are some of the steps you can undergo for treatment:

Drug detox

The first step in handling an addictive personality along with a substance abuse problem is through drug detox. Through this process, it is easier to avoid the dangerous complications of long-term drug abuse. During a drug detox treatment, the patient is monitored by medical staff while providing relief from withdrawal symptoms as the body rids itself of the substances previously taken. The patient may undergo lab procedures, take medications, or have bed rest to help recover from long-term substance use.

Drug detox is recommended for most types of addiction problems. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable at the very least, but they may also be life-threatening when not managed professionally. It is best to seek professional help when trying to quit an addiction.

Treatment proper

The second step on how to overcome an addictive personality and substance abuse problem is to undergo varying treatment procedures. The treatment procedures depend on the patient’s unique situation, medical condition, as well as preferences. As for those who have an addictive personality, different types of psychotherapies can help. Some of the highly-recommended psychotherapies for addictive personalities include the following:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy: In this type of psychotherapy, the patient is free to talk about their thoughts and feelings unfiltered. They can tell their therapist what is on their mind, with the purpose of identifying negative thought patterns and proactively finding solutions. Many sessions can take once or twice a week, and it is effective for those with addictive personalities to help them understand the root cause of their behaviors and how to deal with them. People with addictive personalities may benefit from this if they want a safe space where they can share their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The principle behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is knowing that we can change our lives by eliminating negative thought patterns. CBT is a straightforward psychotherapy approach where the client and the therapist work together to find the negative thought patterns. After this, the therapist creates an action plan for the client to follow. Unlike Psychodynamic Therapy, CBT is more structured and solution-oriented, which may be ideal for those who want quick results.
  • Family Therapy: If the cause of an addictive personality is more external than internal, one of the most effective ways for treatment is through Family Therapy. In this type of psychotherapy, clients are encouraged to discuss issues with other family members. This helps the therapist understand the context of their situation, eliminate enabling behaviors, and create a solution where the family is a strong participant.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The main objective of Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is for the patient to realize that their actions and ways of thinking are out-of-the-norm. Given this realization, the therapist and client will create solutions in order to lead a better life. People who have sudden mood changes, volatile relationships, and impulsive attitudes benefit from DBT as it helps them recognize that these patterns of behavior are not typical, motivating them to change.


After an intensive treatment proper, it is ideal for patients who have substance use disorders and addictive personalities to undergo an aftercare program. Enrolling in an aftercare program ensures that clients will have lesser chances of relapse and slipping back to old behaviors and thought patterns. In Sunshine Behavioral Health, we value aftercare programs to improve the success of recovery for our clients.

Forming an addiction and an addictive personality doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a set of habits, ways of thinking, and learned behaviors that have concretized over time. This is why aftercare is as crucial with the treatment proper. The main purpose of aftercare is to ensure that recovery from substance abuse and personality problems can be more permanent.

Examples of aftercare programs include the following:

  • Counseling: Clients can still continue to see their therapist for accountability purposes.
  • Support groups: Patients can meet with a designated support group to find encouragement and inspiration, as well as provide these to others in their recovery journey.
  • Nutrition and fitness plans: Clients may be given nutritional and fitness plans to follow. These can include routines on diet and exercise that they can incorporate in their daily lifestyle.

Addictive Personality Isn’t A Life Sentence

If you suspect yourself or a loved one to have an addictive personality, know that there is no such thing as a lost cause. Just like other types of personalities, you have your own strengths and weaknesses. It is up to you to take steps in working on your strengths and avoiding the pitfalls of an addictive personality.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

Talk with one of our Treatment Specialists!

Call 24/7: 949-276-2886