There are some people who engage in any habit and have no trouble with moderation or balance. But there are other people who are more prone to addictive behaviors because of their specific personality traits. There are a number of things you likely didn't know are signs of an addictive personality, and being aware of these indicators can help you — or someone you know — figure out how prone you are to addiction.
The idea of an actual "addictive personality" is debated, as people with addiction tend to exhibit all sorts of personality traits. However, experts have identified certain "risk factors" that can predict whether or not someone is likely to engage in addictive behaviors.
"Personality traits are like genes," Ana Jovanovic, psychotherapist at ParentingPod.com, tells Bustle. "They are just a predisposition to develop certain behaviors. Whether we’ll actually develop an addiction or not depends on more than just a set of traits that researchers recognize through psychological testing."
Although there are no single set of inherent psychological characteristics that are common for all the addictions, there are common factors that occur in people who develop addictive behaviors.
Here seven things you didn't realize were signs of an addictive personality, according to experts.
At first glance, an addict may present with an overconfident demeanor, but this can be deceiving. "Many addicts are using their high-and-mighty attitude to mask their crippling insecurity, a phenomenon referred to as the 'superiority-inferiority complex,'" Ryan Steinberg, LMHC tells Bustle. "The constant fluctuation between valuing and devaluating oneself results in an inability to regulate one’s own emotions."
People with high intelligence tend to be at a greater risk for addiction. "One might think that addicts are not smart; however, many addicts are highly skilled, possess talents and gifts and have high IQ levels, all of which are linked to increased rates of illegal drug usage," says Steinberg.
3Tendency To Thrill-Seek
"It is commonplace for an individual with an addictive personality to crave experiences that cause rushes, or thrills," says Martin. "This is because individuals with an addictive personality have a tendency to be impulsive and are eager to try new things. Individuals with an addictive personality enjoy experiencing the release of neurotransmitters, much like what happens when drugs and alcohol are used."
People with addictive personalities tend to be non-conformists. "Fitting in isn’t a priority," says Jovanovic. "Behaviors that result in addiction can be part of a rebellious attitude that we often see in adolescents. These people are more likely to do something that is considered socially deviant such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol. This often goes along with an idea that they cannot truly be understood by others (aka the majority that dictates the norm)."
The tendency to manipulate others to get a desired outcome is often a sign of an addictive personality. "If you are someone who can manipulate others to get your needs met, you may also be willing to manipulate those closest to you in order to keep your addiction going," Nicole B. Washington, D.O., MPH tells Bustle.
6Sensitivity To Emotional Stress
Stressed out easily? It may put you at higher risk for addiction. "A person with a higher sensitivity to emotional stress may try to dilute the feelings with a destructive behavior that might provide temporary relief, but is difficult to manage long term," psychotherapist Kelley Kitley tells Bustle.
Someone who withdraws socially tends to be at higher risk for addiction. "This can be due to the feeling that no one can truly understand or the perceived lack of support in others," says Jovanovic "In these cases, the person is more likely to rely on activities or substances to compensate for the comfort and stress-relief that they are unable to find in others."
These traits don't necessarily mean that someone will have an addiction, but they are risk factors to be aware of.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know are experiencing difficulties with alcohol addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit www.samhsa.gov.