Addictive personalities, irrespective of the environments they grow up in, tend to share personality traits that predispose them to all kinds of addictions. These individuals can get hooked on more than one activity or substance at a time, and have great difficulty stopping themselves from overindulging. In particular, this personality type is vulnerable to becoming addicted to one or a combination of the following: alcohol or drugs, gambling, religion, the internet, pornography, food, video games, work, or even exercise.
The addictive - key traits
- Their addictive habits take up a lot of their time, not because these are hobbies they are passionate about, but because they are unable to control or stop their indulgence
- They tend to be loners and isolate themselves socially because they try and keep their addictions a secret.
- They aren’t good at coping with emotional stress and the slightest frustrating experience, even though it may last short lived, can trigger unbearable levels of anxiety.
- Most have low self-esteem, believing that they are not good enough and that they don’t fit in.
- They tend to act on impulse, and struggle to deal with delayed gratification; their addictive habits offer immediate stimulation and gratification, even if it’s just for a moment.
Positives - it’s not all bad…
- Addictive personalities tend to be more enthusiastic than the average person when it comes to seeking fulfilment and happiness.
- Addictive personalities enjoy experiences to the max.
- They do experiment and take risks, allowing them to experience the world more fully.
Negatives - there are however a lot of drawbacks
- Too much of a good thing, no matter how much pleasure it brings, or how healthy it might seem, is not good for anybody; addictive personalities don’t know the meaning of moderation, and struggle to curb their excesses.
- They are not always pleasant to be around, because the slightest frustration or stressful situation triggers mood swings or sends them into debilitating states of depression.
- Addictive personalities rely almost exclusively on the outside world – their addictions – for a sense of self-worth and meaning; their moods and attitudes are largely determined by what the world offers, hence their huge impulsiveness and unpredictability.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH ONE?
- Try to accept, rather than deny, trivialise, ignore, or downplay the reality of the situation, and don’t get angry with yourself for loving someone with an addiction.
- If you live with an addictive personality, take care of your own health; build friendships with positive, healthy people, because you will need their sanity and support.
- Learn to be assertive and to say no; this might be a challenge, especially if your addictive spouse or close friend repeatedly asks for money or pressurises you into taking on their responsibilities while they are out indulging a destructive habit.
Am I one? You know you have an addictive personality when:
- You spend an inordinate amount of time indulging a particular activity that gives you pleasure, but also a way of avoiding dealing with the stresses and anxieties in your life.
- The moment you experience discomfort, feel anxious, or are under pressure, you seek relief in your addiction: you go exercising, or overeat, surf the internet, consume lots of coffee, or go gambling, for example.
- You deliberately isolate yourself from others to indulge your addictions because you fear embarrassment if they discover your weakness.
HOW CAN I CHANGE?
- There are countless former addictive personalities out there who have successfully learned to break free; what this means is that you don’t have to go from one addiction to another forever, and that you can bring moderation to your actions.
- It might be that you need professional intervention to help you protect yourself from your destructive habits. Counselling, for example, can really help.