Counselors Explain 5 Links Between Personality Type and Addiction
There have been some implications that specific personality type links to addiction. If this idea is accurate, it could help explain why dependency occurs and how it begins.
Learning about the potential link can help you know what to watch for in yourself or your loved ones. It can also help encourage someone never to use substances if they believe their personality type is more susceptible.
Personality traits could contribute to addiction, and understanding the links can help you determine if you think the correlation fits. Likewise, it can give insight into handling substances, including whether you’ll go around those who use them.
Links Between Personality Type and Addiction
Exposure is essential for someone to become addicted, so it’s incorrect to say personality causes it. Without trying the substance for the first time, dependence and brain alteration won’t occur. However, some personality types are more commonly associated with addiction.
Statistics show more than 22 million Americans struggle with a substance abuse disorder (SUD). Specific traits are often found in those with a SUD, leading some to believe personality links to being addicted. These traits don’t mean that someone will become addicted to something, but they can increase the risk.
While some experts indicate personality traits contribute to developing SUDs, other research doesn’t find a correlation. This research also shows a link between personality and addiction but cannot determine if the traits came before or after the SUD. Even with conflicting information, it’s helpful to understand how personality type contributes.
1 – Adventurous or Disconnected Personality and the Brain’s Reward Circuit
People at either end of the personality spectrum (adventurous or disconnected) can be more susceptible to SUD. Those who like to take risks or lack impulse control might experiment with drugs more often, making them more likely to develop dependency.
Disconnected or overly cautious people are also at risk of experiencing substance dependency. They often struggle with social relationships or suffer from depression or anxiety. It could lead to self-medication to dull symptoms of depression or ease loneliness and disconnection.
Being addicted affects the brain’s reward circuit, causing high dopamine levels and lower sensitivity. It causes the person to need more to receive the pleasure that their brain associates with it. Their motivation to abuse substances often increases, and it will likely become a high priority in their mind.
Once the reward system gets triggered and someone becomes addicted, their personality can drastically change. They might become self-centered and irresponsible and frequently blame others for personal issues. These traits may have existed before, but addiction can worsen the experience and lead to more problems.
2 – Lifestyle Factors Contributing to Personality Type
Psychological factors can contribute to SUD, but lifestyle and environmental influences can increase your risk. Things can predispose you to substance dependency, and external factors play a role. It could involve peer pressure, a difficult home life, or experimenting with substances at a young age.
Sometimes it includes witnessing a parent or caregiver drinking or taking drugs in your presence as a child. Another lifestyle factor is taking pain medications long-term because it builds tolerance. Likewise, spending time with people with frequent negative thoughts can lead to issues.
3 – Impulsivity and Personality Type
While impulsivity is often considered fun because of its spontaneous nature, it can also be dangerous. Impulsive people are more likely to develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol because they don’t typically consider risks. They do whatever sounds good momentarily without thinking of what will come of their decision.
4 – Lack of Self-Regulation
Some personality types involve a lack of self-regulation and can lead to substance abuse. When they can’t regulate their behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, it can lead to an inability to moderate their substance use.
The anticipation of the reward often diminishes the pleasure when they consume the substance. Then, they’ll need more to receive the reward they hoped for.
5 – Neuroticism and Personality Type
Experts indicate that neuroticism can make someone more susceptible to addiction. This personality type involves experiencing intense effects, including:
- self-consciousness or self-doubt
- anxiety or chronic worrying
- irritability or moodiness
- emotional instability
- lack of resilience
- viewing minor problems as overwhelming
- jealousy and envy
- fear or guilt
These people often internalize their problems and try to mask their negative traits. They often experience dissatisfaction with their life and most situations. You might also notice that they quickly become emotional, often leading to overindulgent behavior contributing to substance abuse.
Other Factors That May Lead to Addiction (Besides Personality Type)
Personality type isn’t the only thing linked to addiction. Some of the other things that can contribute include the following:
Studies show that those with a close family member experiencing addiction are more likely to develop dependency. It doesn’t mean the person can’t avoid a SUD, but it increases their risk.
When they also experience other environmental factors linked to substance use, they can quickly develop a problem. The closer the genetic connection, the higher the risk, so pay close attention if a parent, child, or sibling is addicted to a substance.
Experiencing trauma during childhood can make the person more likely to develop a substance dependency. The more adverse experiences the person has, the more likely they are to abuse drugs or alcohol. These events are stressful and often lead to physical and emotional difficulties. Some of the traumatic experiences that can contribute include:
- physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- witnessing violent situations
- emotional or physical neglect
- parental abandonment
- living with someone who has a mental illness
- having an incarcerated parent or close family member
- experiencing parental divorce or separation
- frequently stressing from frequent life changes
Experimenting With Highly Addictive Substances
Some substances can lead to addiction more quickly than others. If someone tries opioids, cocaine, or stimulants, they can become addicted the first time they try. These drugs cause intense symptoms and rewire the brain’s structure sooner than others.
Lacking a Positive Support System
Experiencing strained relationships with friends and family can make someone more likely to turn to substances for comfort. It could be their way of dulling feelings of loneliness or depression or how they handle uncomfortable experiences. Without a positive support system to turn to, it could be hard to find better coping methods.
How to Prevent Addiction Despite Personality Type
While things out of your control can increase your risk of addiction, it is preventable. Preventative measures can decrease the risk and help people think, feel, and act better. Some ideas include:
- engaging in fun activities or hobbies instead of using substances
- educating yourself and loved ones about suds and prevention
- improving the home environment
- experiencing positive social gatherings
- speaking with a professional
- learning or teaching impulse control
- developing fulfilling connections
Signs of a SUD
If you think you or someone you love might be dealing with substance abuse, you might notice some of the following signs:
- needing to use the substance daily or several times each day
- experiencing intense urges to use the substance to block out your thoughts
- failing to meet responsibility or obligations
- increasing the amounts that you use or using more than planned
- obtaining drugs or alcohol in ways that are against your morals
- spending money on the substance when you can’t afford it
- putting substance use before social or recreational activities
- engaging in dangerous behaviors while using the substance
- being unable to stop using
- using drugs or alcohol despite knowing it causes problems in your life
- needing more to experience the effects you used to get
- spending excess time obtaining, using, or overcoming a high
- lack of energy or motivation
- unexplained weight gain or loss
- lacking interest in appearance
- unexplained behavioral changes
- sudden money issues
What to Do When You or a Loved One Struggle
Experiencing a SUD is treatable, and early intervention offers the best results. The sooner someone gets help for their dependence, the more likely they can overcome it. Many programs can help, and insurance companies sometimes help cover the costs.
Behavioral therapy is also an option that can help someone learn positive ways to manage their behaviors. They can learn to self-regulate and cope with their emotions. It also allows them to overcome negative traits that may contribute to addiction.
Once someone is addicted, they always risk a relapse after they overcome the issue. It’s essential to be aware of the situation and acknowledge the importance of avoiding the substance.
Following a treatment plan is the best way to overcome a SUD, no matter how long it’s been since the last use. It might involve attending support group meetings and regularly seeing your therapist.
Avoid high-risk situations, including where you used to get your substance. Please don’t spend time with friends you used drugs or alcohol with because it can trigger a relapse.
Final Thoughts on Links Between Personality Type and Addiction
The link between personality type and addiction offers valuable insight into the cause of SUDs. It’s not the only risk factor but it may contribute.
Understanding the links can help you avoid becoming addicted or influence your loved ones to make healthier choices. If it’s already affecting you or someone you care about, getting help is essential. There is hope, as prevention and healing are possible, so don’t let it take control.
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