So You Have An Addictive Personality…What Does That Mean?

October 5, 2007 — 18 Comments

If you are a recovering addict there is no doubt that you have been told you have an addictive personality.

People have probably even told you long before you ever realized that you were an addict that you had an addictive personality…but what does that mean?

In order to explain what an addictive personality is you need to first explain the basics of addictive thinking or an addictive belief system. To be be kind of general about it…the addictive belief system is that there is only black and white, no gray area.

Some examples are thinking that perfection is a possible thing or thinking that you should be all powerful and be able to control every aspect of life. Another big one is the thought that life should never be painful and shouldn’t require such effort or that feelings are dangerous.

How Addictive Beliefs Cause Addictive Personalities

The people that live with an addictive belief system (myself included) tend to develop certain types of personality traits to help them deal with life. Most are developed as a way of protecting themselves from the suffering that is in direct connection with their beliefs.

Obviously there isn’t one type of personality profile that guarantees someone is going to be an addict. That is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever attended an AA or NA meeting. Usually you walk out of there thinking…”well, it takes all kinds”.

What needs to be understood is that, for example, someone with explosive anger and someone that is passive aggressive can share a common problem…they both have trouble managing their anger. So even though they exhibit behavior that is on opposite sides of the issue…it’s still the same issue.

If you look at it that way, you can see how it can be that all us addicts have so much in common even though we are so different. We end up finding more similarities than differences in each other.

Addictive Personality Traits And How They Can Lead To Addiction

I don’t know every single addictive personality trait there is out there but I’m going to list several of them and then also give the reason why the addictive substance fits in with this trait perfectly. If you look at it like this, it’s pretty easy to see why some personality traits are considered to make up an addictive personality.

    • Poor Coping Skills

– the addictive activity freezes time, puts our lives on hold and provides just the right distraction so that the we don’t have to face any problems.

    • Self-censoring

– the substance eliminates that internal censor allowing the user to feel free and be “him or herself”.

    • Need For Immediate Gratification

– the substance provides that “quick fix” you take or drink whatever and you know that within a reasonable amount of time you will be feeling good.

    • Excessive Approval Seeking/Being Obsessed With Image

– the substance can work two ways on this one. Either you are getting approval from whomever you are drinking/drugging with or you end up being numb to the rejection that you are so afraid of in the first place.

    • Self-less

– for someone that feels they don’t know who they are, addiction provides a pseudo-identity, even if it’s a negative one.

    • Trouble Having Real Pleasure

– addiction provides pseudo-pleasure. This kind of ties in with someone who self censors all the time, they can’t let go and have fun but the substance allows that.

    • Intimacy Problems; Feelings of Isolation

– the drug substitutes for a relationship, relieves the feelings of isolation and sometimes the act of getting and using the drug offers a community feeling.

There are many other personality traits that would fit into the addictive personality, I just picked what I feel would be the most common. I actually tried to go with some of what I feel are my own addictive personality traits.

So once you identify that you have these addictive personality traits and you are no longer filling the need with a substance the question becomes…how do you fill the need?

18 responses to So You Have An Addictive Personality…What Does That Mean?

  1. stayathomemotherdom October 5, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I had a doctor recently tell me “there is no such thing as an addictive personality” and I was thinking…how does a doctor think such a thing?! It’s people like that that keep active addicts in denial, and those in recovery in other forms of addictive behavior.

    I like your blog;)

  2. It’s true, especially what you wrote about exhibiting other forms of addictive behavior even when you are in recovery.

    I think recovery is more about healing your addictive thinking than it is to just not use a substance. I guess that’s the meaning of a dry drunk right? Someone who doesn’t drink anymore but doesn’t actively try to recover from their addictive thinking and behaviors.

  3. I have been struggling with my own addiction for a long time now and if I look in to my own addiction, what you say makes a lot of sense

  4. I’m an addict, to whatever I start liking, I just replaced, one addiction for a new one, I don’t know how to help myself, I thought, being an addict to sports (which is my new one)was not a bad thing, but it is, I don’t know why I always get addcited to something, sex, drugs, food, tv, I just jump from one to another, I wish I could, stop, is affecting, my work, my relationships, I don’t feel good until I do it, I can’t think, I can’t relax, I have an addictive personality, how can change

  5. Yoga and Deepak Chopra will help you to relax and focus on acheivements that are constructive and creative and give you genuine self esteem and love. That dude is like the father I never had!

  6. I am very into Deepak Chopra myself. His writing makes me smile.

    • When you are smiling while reading his writings he is LAUGHING while reviewing his bank statement swelling from the sale of his books to you and others. This man is a prolific con man with a large side order of pseudo enlightenment.

  7. I completely agree with this guy and what some of the comments have said in regards to controlling the addiction is about controlling the personality disorder, not just not using whatever your vice is.

  8. Great Info! very Useful. Thanks

  9. This was very helpful to me. My son has been married for 1 year, and I have been trying like crazy to figure-out his MIL. Everyone walks on eggshells when she is around, and my son’s wife “picks on me” when she is around, is totally uptight, whereas when the MIL is not around, everyone is very relaxed, loving, laughing & cordial. The MIL treats me as a “Rival”–even for my own son (his wife does not)–and does everything she can to marginalize me when other people are around. At first I thought she might be Narsisistic also, but I have not been able to find anything that the 2 go together. She is a very heavy smoker (it keeps her “thin”), and she got so drunk at the Rehearsal Dinner she was driven home early by the youngest sister’s boyfriend. The rest of the time she talks about all her friends, all she does, how hard she works (not in the workforce)–and doesn’t do that much at all! Complains all the time, about something, even the dog. Everyone cowtows to her, and my son told me that the reason they “appreciate” me so much is because I’m not “needy”. But yet, they (and other family members) allow her to command all of the attention and always get “her way”. When the 2 of us are together at my son & DIL’s home, K always gets the bedroom and I get the air mattress on the floor; my son & his wife will not even ASK K to take the floor every other visit (she is divorced–had an affair which caused her husband of almost 30 yrs to leave–and I am widowed). She is 53 and I’m 67, tho in our looks, it is the other way around. I’m not timid or a shrinking-violet, (so it is not like she is trying to further bury a “weak” personablity); in fact, my husband and I owned our own wholesale bldg products distribution company. She was married to a CEO & never worked. There is a baby coming this month, to complicate things further–as “co-grandmas, so-to-speak. I’ve done a lot in my life, including as a Flt Attendant flying troops to/from Viet Nam, and thought I had met one of everything, but I’ve never known anyone like this one before in my life!!! (I probably did, but chose not to associate w/them; this time I have no choice. In reading back thru this, I can’t believe I said all this! Anyway, you did give me some insight I didn’t have before. Thank you! –L

  10. hi,i feel for you guys,but isnt there a treatment,that slowly speeds up the bit of your brain that is not working properly and controls the addiction,once the part is up to speed the frontal lobe bit kicks in and takes over,the the correct balance has been brought back,bingo you are cured,i know it takes time but there is light at the end of the tunnel,the secret it seems is in the ability to identify the sauce of the problems from your past and give attention to them accept them and move on,all this gets to the frontal lobe kicking in,i wish you all well,my boyfriend is in this prossess and is doin really well i am so proud of him,

  11. My addictive personality is controled by lots of meetings and my program. I know that I will never be cured of it, but it is allways getting better as long as I am at meetings and working the steps in my life. 25 years in AA and I can notice the addictions comeing back when I miss a fue meetings

  12. God I recognise myself in a couple of these traits- maybe addictive personalities do exist…

  13. You say “how do you fill the need?” but I don’t see any answer to that question on your site. I am really struggling to stay sober (day 92 today) but I am having weird cravings and need an answer as to why I am craving things like ice cream daily and abundantly.

    Thank you


  14. I was doing some step work and a question arose in my mind about this topic. “Addictive Personalities”. It had me wondering why people, especially the ones found in the rooms of NA and AA are always labeled with having this type of personality. I am asking this because I was breaking it down and just thinking about drugs. A lot of them are physically addictive, like heroin for example. So, if someone uses heroin, who doesn’t have an “addictive personality” and they use it enough, they will develop a habbit and therefore will become addicted to it in order to maintain and not get sick. So in the case that a person does this for a long time and then gets clean, he or she would absolutely be told that they have an “addictive personality” when really all they did was pick up a drug that is very addicting. So why is it that all drug addicts and recovering addicts are almost guaranteed to be labeled to have an addictive personality? Can’t it be the case, and in many cases I’m sure, that the person simply chose to use a very addictive drug and it’t not their personality? Just a thought.

  15. My Higher Power really works in my life. There’s no coincidence I found your enlightening blog. This past Monday, I acknowledged 11 years in recovery. I also painfully struggle with mental health issues which I’m pretty sure came first. Self medicating with pills came after.

    And YES when I first came into the rooms I didn’t believe I was an addict because after all, they were prescribed by my psychiatrist. Never mind the fact that I would abuse the prescriptions and end up almost dying. The good doc kept giving me more. Why? Because I told him how horrible my life was. How I couldn’t sleep. The sad part was that everything I told him was true. The reality was the more pills I used, the worse my problems became.

    Fast forward 5 years or so after my first meeting, when the fog finally lifted, a definitive diagnosis of my mental health issues were made and with the right medication and therapy, I’m finally in a good place. It’s not an easy life, but its mine and I’m alive.

    As for an addictive personality, oh the stories I could tell. Like shopping for things that I MUST HAVE because they’ll make me feel better, look better and the fact that I would drive across the state to get them if they weren’t local. The worst insult was that once I got what it was that I NEEDED, WANTED, I felt only revulsion and shame. I’d bring it home and place it haphazardly next to the last thing I thought would save me.
    My obsession/compulsion was the thrill of the chase, the scheming, the driving, the getting over on the ones that love me, the drama.

    I know I’ll never be cured but as long as I remain honest, open minded and willing and accept that I have this way of thinking, then I have another day of living a life worth living.
    Thank you giving me a chance to share.

    • Ellie,

      Hello. Not sure if you will see this, but I have a higher power too who takes away addictive personalities and replaces them with fruits of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control. Its a relationship with God through Jesus. He is the one who I turn to and he is the one who gives me a peace that ends up controlling the way I think and feel. Gettng to know him through prayer, reading his word(bible), and practicing those things daily will change anyone.

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