Addiction is a progressive psychological disorder, classified by the World Health organization as dependence syndrome: “a cluster of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive phenomena (with) the use of a substance or a class of substances.”
This description characterizes the overpowering desire to consume substances despite harmful consequences. Today, a large percentage of people who drink or have tried drugs don’t become dependent on them, which leads to the question, why do some people become dependent while others never will?
Is it possible to define what constitutes an addictive personality?
As with any mental illness, substance abuse can affect people of all ethnic and socio economic backgrounds, and certainly some of the danger is the addictive nature of the substance itself. Tobacco use, for example, while having elements of psychological addiction, research identifies nicotine as the main addictive component of the dependence. If you’re looking for some simple indicators that help determine whether you’re at risk for developing dependence based on personality traits there are a few symptoms to be aware of.
This refers to the desire to seek out sensations as a coping mechanism, like the enjoyment of mind altering, adrenaline pumping experience. This also describes the inability to manage uncomfortable feelings or situations appropriately, the need to always “treat” oneself, or the hypochondriac response to always being sick in the face of unwanted challenge.
This is not to be confused with individuals who sometimes make impulsive decisions that don’t always turn out for the best. People who are consistently impulsive are enamored with acting before thinking, placing impulsiveness on a heightened somewhat spiritual plain. Having poor self-control and enjoying frequent random changes are the distinctive characteristics.
Substance abuse tends to go hand in hand with other mental disorders such as; Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression, Antisocial Disorders, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While exhibiting any or all of these signs does not ensure addictive behavior, they are indications of having a proclivity toward an addictive personality. Recognizing addictive personality traits can be an important tool for altering behavior patterns and avoiding substance abuse problems.
Drug and alcohol abuse is often characterized by obsessive and compulsive tendencies that advance risk behavior associated with addiction. Seeking help and treatment is the first step in freeing oneself from the overpowering nature of addiction.