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.
- 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.
- 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?