An addictive personality means that someone has certain traits that put him or her more at risk for developing an addiction. Having these traits puts them at risk for all kinds of addictions, not just drug problems. For example, they can also develop addictions to gambling, sex, and exercise.

In general, people with addictive characteristics tend to develop an What-It-Means-to-Have-an-Addictive-Personalityaddiction to anything that releases endorphins in the brain. The brain uses endorphins to trigger a reward response. Eating good food, laughing, or even exercising releases endorphins. People with addictive personalities may not even realize how their traits are hurting them.

Addictive personalities put people at risk for developing a substance abuse disorder. Substance abuse disorder is when an individual becomes physically and mentally dependent on a drug. Addiction causes a lot of pain in the individual’s life, as well as those around them. 

Understanding addictive personality traits can save lives by preventing addiction. 

Addictive Personality: Spot the Traits

Not all personality traits lead to addiction. However, people should look out for those that put them more at risk. For example, poor coping skills put people at a higher risk. When they can’t cope, they turn to drugs to help them.

People who have impulsive behaviors are more inclined to develop an addiction. When they act impulsively, they don’t think about the outcome or how to control their actions. Those who drink all night when they know that they have to work the next day are at risk. Since they can’t control themselves, using alcohol can hold serious consequences.

Compulsive behavior is another concern. When someone suffers from compulsive behavior, they already have trouble controlling their actions. If they start using drugs, it’s even harder for them to break the cycle and keep themselves from using.

Spot the Traits: A More In-Depth Look

Most people can moderate their behavior around substances, such as alcohol. There is a difference between becoming addicted and occasionally using. To avoid developing a full-blown addiction, it helps to understand who’s at risk. 

People with addictive personalities include those who are:

  • Related to others who have developed an addiction
  • Experiencing other mental health disorders
  • Adventurous and risk-taking
  • Disconnected and cautious
  • Obsessive and compulsive
  • Apathetic
  • Unable to self-regulate

Genetics can also play a role, along with pre-existing mental health disorders. Individuals who are experiencing various mental health concerns can be more likely to abuse and become dependent on substances. 

These mental health conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, or other mood disorders
  • Anxiety or panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Each person is unique in how much will they have and how their traits affect them. If you find yourself noticing that you have these traits, take caution. There are ways to overcome these traits and move forward in your life.

Addictive Personalities and Alcohol

People who have addictive personality traits that also drink alcohol don’t automatically develop an addiction. However, they need to be more aware of the consequences of their actions. 

Experts believe that addictive personality traits can make the difference between the development of addiction versus regular use. Others believe that it’s their drug use habits that make the difference.

For example, some people can go out and have a few drinks on the weekend without any problems. Others, however, have trouble stopping, and it starts affecting their workweek. Also, social drinkers only drink when they’re out with friends. There’s a problem when they can’t stop there and have to drink when they’re alone at home.

What Exactly is an Addiction?

Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, despite the psychological and physical harm it’s causing. An individual who cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical has a substance dependence.

Addiction is a chronic disease that can also result from taking medications. Did you know that the overuse of prescribed opioid painkillers causes 115 deaths every day in the United States?

It’s time for us to wake up. Why are we prescribing opioid painkillers like it’s just an Advil? Those who start using drugs may also develop an addictive personality over time. When a person experiences addiction, they cannot control their relationship with the substance.

Signs of Addiction

An addictive personality can lead to addiction. When addiction starts to develop, it’s not always easy to spot. The person may conceal their addiction or live in a state of denial. Understanding what the signs of addiction are can help you to stop it in its tracks.

Physical Signs of Addiction

  • Overactive or under-active (depending on the drug)
  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose (not attributable to a cold)
  • Looking malnourished
  • Extreme changes in weight 
  • Developing unusual eating habits
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

  • Work/school issues
  • Missing important engagements
  • Isolating/secretive about activities
  • Poorly affected sleep patterns
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship/marital problems
  • Financial issues

Emotional Signs of Addiction

  • Irritability/Argumentative
  • Defensiveness
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Confused easily
  • Denial
  • Blaming – Placing the blame for the behavior on someone else or some event

Addictive Personalities: How is your Brain Affected?

From nicotine to opiates, a powerful rush of dopamine is sent to your brain during use. The likelihood that the substance being abused during a rewarding activity will lead to addiction is directly linked to a few factors. For one, the speed with which it promotes dopamine release is a major aspect. You may feel a dopamine rush 15 minutes after taking a shot, or you may feel it immediately with hitting a cigarette. 

The intensity of that release is another major factor. Using the example from earlier, nicotine may give you a light buzz. However, heroin is much more intense with a completely state-altering effect. 

Lastly, let’s talk about the reliability of that release. Maybe the substance produces the same effect each time, or maybe it’s a little bit less reliable. For instance, a drug like MDMA will not always produce the same effects, especially after extended use.

Even taking the same drug through different methods of administration can influence how likely it is to lead to addiction. Smoking a drug or injecting it intravenously, as opposed to swallowing it as a pill, for example, generally produces a faster, stronger dopamine signal.

Let 1st Step Help You Overcome Addiction

If you have an addictive personality, it doesn’t take much for you to fall victim to addiction. With that said, you can learn how to handle addiction and these traits with the right guidance. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, we provide this kind of guidance. 

Some of the different drug addiction treatment programs that we offer include:

  • Inpatient treatment: This type of residential inpatient treatment will require patients to live at our treatment facility. Inpatient treatment is best suited for those struggling with a severe addiction. Patients reside in a safe and medically-supervised environment. Inpatient programs typically take 28 to 90 days to complete.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment: 

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) consists of weekly scheduled sessions for substance abuse disorders and addiction. It’s a great middle-ground for those who have serious responsibilities, yet still, need treatment. 

  • Partial hospitalization (PHP): 

This is where patients live in residence at a facility for up to 90 days, depending on their situation. PHP rehab is a type of outpatient care where patients stay at the facility daily to receive treatment but then go home at night.

Struggling with both an addiction and a mental health disorder at the same time is known as a dual diagnosis. In other words, you have at least two conditions occurring at the same time and interacting with one another. These are also sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders.

We strive to provide a caring environment for our clients. We also don’t consider ourselves a “country club.” Instead, we truly focus on addiction counseling and treatment. As part of our effort to offer reliable care, we offer long-term programs as well. Our long-term care can last from six months to a year.

1st Step Behavioral Health offers great amenities for our clients. Some of them include acupuncture services, massage therapy, and on-site chiropractor. All of these services help reduce stress so that you can relax.

Call Us Today

Fight back against your addiction and learn how to overcome your addictive personality traits. Let us show you the road to recovery

If you’re struggling with addiction, seek help with us today. We’ll help you get the treatment you need. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (855) 425-4846 or contact us here for more information about available programs.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.