Having an addictive personality disorder means that a person has certain traits that make him or her more likely to develop an addiction. Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, despite the psychological and physical harm it could be causing. When someone has an addictive personality disorder, they are at higher risk of not only drug or alcohol addiction but also addictions to sex, gambling, and overeating.
People with addictive personality disorders usually develop an addiction to any activity that releases endorphins in the brain. The brain recognizes endorphins as a reward response. Anything enjoyable will release endorphins, such as exercising, laughing, or enjoying a good meal. When the activities people do release endorphins, their brains and bodies will tell them to keep doing that activity. An addiction develops when they are unable to stop that activity and become dependent on continuing it. Most people do not even realize they have a problem until the addiction is already formed.
An individual who cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical has a substance dependence. Whether it is nicotine or an opiate that is ingested, dopamine is sent to your brain during use. How quickly the drug takes effect can determine how likely it is that addiction will eventually occur. Another factor in addiction likelihood is how intense the effects of the drug are. Nicotine is going to have a milder effect than heroin or methamphetamine. Finally, the reliability of the release is also a significant factor in addictive tendencies. Some substances are inclined to produce the same effects each time, while other effects will decrease the longer you use them. Drugs that are administered through smoking or intravenously create a more powerful impact than drugs that are swallowed as a pill, which makes it more likely that the more powerful effect would lead to an addiction.
People with addictive personality disorder are at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse addiction. When that happens, that person becomes physically and mentally dependent on a drug or alcohol. Some people do not understand addiction and want an addicted person to stop. It is not that easy. This may not be possible without professional help and hospitalization, depending on the severity of the problem. Understanding people with addictions are not making a “choice” to continue their behaviors, but that it is physically and mentally impossible to stop without help. It can even be dangerous to try to quit without professionals because of the risk of confusion and seizures that can occur in severe cases.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone can develop an addiction, but people with certain personality traits may be more likely to turn to addictions. Here are some of the personality traits to be aware of for yourself and your loved ones.
Poor coping skills – People that are not able to deal with daily problems or issues well may be more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol. These substances may seem to give them some relief from their daily stresses, but in reality, they only add to their problems.
Impulsive behaviors – People that act impulsively or without thinking things through are more likely to form addictions. They are not able to think about the consequences of their immediate actions and are unable to control their impulses. Having fun at the moment without considering the repercussions later can be a sign of a severe disorder if it continues over time.
Compulsive behaviors – People with compulsive behavior already have trouble with restricting their actions. Behavior patterns and cycles that are formed are harder to break when someone is addicted. Compulsive behavior in itself can be a challenge and, when combined with substance abuse, only adds to the difficulty in modifying behaviors.
Most people can moderate their behavior and not have a problem. People with poor coping skills, impulsive behavior, or compulsive disorders need to be aware that their personality traits make it more likely they will develop a problem. Recognizing and avoiding substances that could become addictions is vital to remaining addiction free.
Another risk factor includes anyone with a family history of addiction. Genetic makeup can contribute to the likelihood of addictive behavior, although exposure and learning by observation can also occur in addictive disorders.
Addiction can also plague anyone with mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and antisocial personality disorder. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also tend to go hand in hand with addictive behavior. Seeking treatment and keeping these disorders under control is essential to having power in other aspects of your life. Individuals who are experiencing mental health issues can be more likely to abuse and become dependent on substances.
If you find yourself noticing that you have these traits, it would be beneficial to take notice and watch for addictive tendencies. There are ways to overcome these traits and decrease your chances of becoming addicted to certain behaviors.
Signs of Addiction
It is not always easy to spot addiction problems in others. Part of the disease is learning to hide the addictive behavior from others to continue doing it and to deny it is a problem. Here are some physical signs to look for when questioning if someone has an addiction problem or another disorder.
- Change in typical energy level
- Irregular or repetitive speech patterns
- Dilated or red eyes
- Excessive sniffing or runny nose
- Changes in weight or eating habits
- Lack of personal hygiene
Addiction problems can also manifest in behavioral signs. While these can be harder to notice or pin down, behavior changes of any kind can raise a red flag, especially when combined with the other physical signs to look for.
- Trouble with school or work
- Forgetful with appointments or engagements
- Secretive with information
- Poor sleep patterns
- Legal issues
- Relationship trouble
- Financial problems
- Change in temperament
- Defensiveness or denial
- Loss of interest in prior hobbies
Even having an idea of signs to watch for when a loved one may have an addiction problem, is not foolproof. Hiding the symptoms is a skill that people with addiction come to perfect to continue the behavior that makes them feel good, even while knowing that it is wrong and unhealthy for them. When the addiction worsens, knowing they are unable to physically stop the behavior can make recovery seem hopeless, and they use the drugs or alcohol as an escape to the situation.
Addiction issues have destroyed so many relationships between family members, spouses, children, and friends. If you recognize yourself in any of the danger signs of addictive personality traits, definitely use care when participating in activities that could promote those addictions. Avoidance and prevention in advance are much more straightforward than treating the addiction later. Recognizing the signs of a possible addiction problem can be the first, yet painful, step in getting help for either yourself or others.