April 8, 2024

Combatting Addictive Personality Traits

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The notion of an addictive personality is often misinterpreted and misapplied. An addictive personality is not a psychiatric diagnosis. Beyond this, if someone possesses traits of an addictive personality, this does not necessarily predispose them to develop drug or alcohol addiction.

That said, many people who experience substance use disorder – the clinical term for addiction – share many traits of addictive personality like engaging in risky behaviors or acting impulsively. Whether you feel that you have personality traits of an addict or you’re grappling with a diagnosable addiction, read on to discover how you can fight back and engage with effective, compassionate care.

What Personality Traits Are Associated with Addiction?

Although contemporary perspectives challenge the concept of addictive personalities, some research suggests that there are certain addiction personality traits that may predispose some people to developing addictions, even if it is not the only determining factor.

One study found that individuals with a higher propensity for impulsive behavior were at increased risk of substance use. Other findings associate traits like nonconformity, a desire for new experiences, and a willingness to deviate from social norms with a heightened risk of developing addictions.

Not everyone who displays these traits will develop addictions, though, and not everyone with an addiction exhibits personality traits of addiction. All addictions are caused by a nuanced interplay of many different factors.

To generalize, then, what are the personality traits of an addict?

Weak self-regulation

Challenges in self-regulating behaviors, emotions, and thoughts is a trait commonly encountered in those with a higher risk of addiction. This difficulty in moderation, especially when it comes to alcohol or other addictive substances, points to a broader issue with managing desires and impulses.

Patterns of compulsive behaviors

While some people imagine that addiction purely involves a lack of impulse control, it can also manifest in those who exhibit compulsive behaviors toward substance use. These compulsions are not only about spontaneous desires but can develop into a habit over time, a habit that becomes deeply ingrained and difficult to break.

Engaging in risk-taking behaviors

People who are naturally inclined to seek new or risky experiences are often at heightened risk of experimenting with drugs and potentially developing addictions over time. This trait may be linked to dopamine levels in the brain and how people respond to its effects. Individuals with a predisposition for adventure may look for more intense experiences to deliver pleasurable sensations, even if this means using substances that directly impact the dopamine system in the brain.


Interestingly, not only the adventurous and bold are at risk of addiction – individuals with cautious traits or challenges forming social connections may also turn to addictive substances. Self-medicating feelings of loneliness, depression, or anxiety can lead to dependence and addiction, while at the same time doing nothing to address the underlying issues.

What Causes Addictive Personality Traits?

Addictive personality traits commonly linked to an increased risk of addiction don’t manifest in isolation, but rather as a blend of the following factors:

  • Genetic and biological factors: Research consistently shows that about 50% of a person’s risk profile for addiction is due to genetic factors. Certain genetic predispositions can affect how someone responds to psychoactive substances, potentially increasing the likelihood of developing an addiction over time. Variations in genes related to the dopamine system, for instance, may influences impulsivity and reward-seeking behaviors. Biologic factors like abnormalities in brain function or structure may also predispose some people to traits associated with addiction.
  • Environmental influences: The environment in which someone grows up and lives can dramatically impact their risk of developing addictive personality traits. Factors like exposure to high-stress situations, early experiences with drugs or alcohol, a family history of substance abuse, and lack of a supportive social network can all contribute to the development of behaviors and attitudes conducive to addiction. Peer influence and social normal may also play a part in shaping a person’s relationship with addictive substances.
  • Psychological and emotional variables: Individuals who have experienced trauma, struggle with emotional regulation, or suffer from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are often at increased risk of developing addictive behaviors as a coping mechanism.
  • Developmental experiences and interpersonal relationships: The quality of a person’s relationships and their developmental experiences can influence their risk for addiction. ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) like neglect, abuse, or parental separation are associated with an increased risk of addiction in later life.

Everyone has a unique experience with addiction. All aspects of this chronic and relapsing disorder, including addictive personality traits, occur as a mix of many different reasons. How can you fight back, then?

How to Combat Addictive Personality Traits

Combatting traits that predispose individuals to addiction involves a multi-pronged approach, incorporating self-awareness, professional support, and lifestyle changes. By understanding and addressing these traits head-on, it’s possible for people to develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduce their risk of falling into addictive behaviors. Here are several strategies to manage and mitigate these traits effectively.

Practice mindfulness and improve self-awareness

Increasing self-awareness can help people recognize and understand their own behaviors, triggers, and the underlying emotions driving them. Practices such as mindfulness and meditation can help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, reducing impulsivity, and improving emotional regulation. Mindfulness can also enhance a person’s ability to cope with stress and reduce the appeal of substance use as a coping mechanism.

Build a supportive social network

A robust support system of family, friends, and peers who understand the challenges of addiction can provide encouragement and accountability. Support groups, whether in-person or virtual, can offer a sense of community and shared experience, making the journey toward healthier habits less isolating.

Develop healthy coping techniques

Replacing substance use with healthy coping mechanism for anxiety, stress, and other negative emotions can help mitigate addictive behaviors. Activities like exercise, practicing relaxation techniques, or engaging with hobbies can all serve as positive outlets for managing stress and emotions.

Establish a balanced lifestyle

A balanced lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep can improve overall well-being and resilience against addiction. Physical health has a direct impact on mental health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the need or temptation to seek comfort or escape through the use of drugs or alcohol.

Seek professional support

Professional guidance from counselors, therapists, or addiction specialists can help impart insights and tools for managing addictive personality traits. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), for example, can help people alter negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction. Therapy can also address underlying psychological issues like depression or anxiety that may contribute to substance use.

Get Treatment for Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you need help unpacking addictive personalities and behaviors, reach out to Gratitude Lodge in Southern California for immediate assistance. We have pet-friendly and inclusive treatment centers in Long Beach and Newport Beach dedicated to your whole-body healing from drug addiction or alcoholism.

Begin your recovery with supervised detoxification. Access to medications and continuous care streamlines the withdrawal process and facilitates your transition to ongoing treatment having addressed drug or alcohol dependence.

All addictions are unique and this is reflected in personalized treatment plans at Gratitude Lodge. Therapies offered may include:

  • Motivational therapies
  • Psychotherapies
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Holistic interventions
  • One-to-one counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Aftercare support

Call Gratitude Lodge today at 800-994-2184 and begin your recovery tomorrow.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.