What are the Signs of an Addictive Personality?

A man with a backpack stands on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a breathtaking view.
This entry was posted in Addiction on by .

An addictive personality is a term used to describe a set of personality traits that make an individual more susceptible to developing addictions. This concept has been the subject of much debate and research within the psychological and medical communities. Is addiction something that can be avoided? Are we able to pinpoint the individuals most at risk for addiction?

Addictions can encompass a wide range of behaviors, including substance use, gambling, eating disorders and even excessive use of the internet or video games. It’s important to note that not everyone who exhibits these traits will develop an addiction. However, being aware of the signs can help in identifying potential issues early on.

Below are some commonly identified signs of an addictive personality.


Impulsive behavior and addiction go hand-in-hand. Individuals with addictive personalities tend to be impulsive, causing them to experiment with drugs or alcohol without fully considering the consequences. This impulsivity can easily lead them down the road of substance use and keep them trapped in a cycle of addiction. Additionally, using drugs and alcohol can cause a person to act impulsively, further worsening the cycle.

Difficulty with Stress Management

People who struggle to manage stress effectively may turn to substances or behaviors as a way to cope. This reliance on external sources for stress relief can pave the way for addictive behaviors. Plus, untreated stress can lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, which can also increase the risk for substance use.

High Tolerance for Deviant Behavior

A higher tolerance for deviant behavior can make individuals more susceptible to engaging in activities that are harmful or frowned upon by society, including drug use or illegal activities. Where other people may not be comfortable deviating from social norms, others find it acceptable to engage in problematic behaviors.

It’s important to note that not all deviant behaviors are the same. Some behaviors are considered socially unacceptable but do not violate laws (showing up late to work, gossiping about others, lying) while others do violate laws (substance use, assault, domestic violence).

Obsessive Behaviors

An addictive personality may be marked by an obsessive focus on certain activities or substances. This obsession can dominate the person’s thoughts and actions, leading to compulsive behavior. In fact, substance use is more prevalent in those with obsessive compulsive disorder. This is believed to be the case due to self-medication, overlapping risk factors and the side effects of substance use.

Difficulty in Establishing and Maintaining Relationships

Problems with interpersonal relationships are common among those with addictive personalities. They may have difficulty forming deep and meaningful connections, partly due to their behaviors and the impact of their addictions on relationships. Engaging in regular substance use can cause problems of its own, further sabotaging relationships.

Sensation Seeking

A constant search for new and thrilling experiences can be a sign of an addictive personality. Sensation seekers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including substance use, to satisfy their need for excitement. Sensation seeking is not all bad, however. The key is knowing which activities to pursue—rock climbing, zip lining, bowling, ropes courses—while minimizing risks and danger.

Emotional Instability

Individuals exhibiting signs of emotional instability, such as mood swings or an inability to handle emotions healthily, may turn to addictive substances or behaviors as a form of self-medication. This emotional stability may be an issue on its own, or it may be the result of a mental health disorder. Fortunately, the right combination of medication and therapy can improve emotional instability.

A History of Addiction in the Family

Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in the development of addictive behaviors—about half of an individual’s risk for addiction is heritable. Not only do genetics play a role, but also so does the environment. If a person grows up in a household where the parents engaged in substance use, they are more likely to use substances to cope as well.

Seeking Support for Addiction in Santa Rosa, CA

It’s important to approach the concept of an addictive personality with caution, as it can lead to oversimplification and stigmatization. Addiction is a complex issue that involves a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Just because you have some of these traits does not mean you will develop an addiction.

If you or someone you know exhibits these traits and is struggling with addiction, seeking professional help is a crucial step toward recovery. You can improve many of these behaviors with therapy, support groups and medication. Not only can you stop the cycle of addiction, but also you can live happier and healthier. Contact Pura Vida Recovery in Santa Rosa, CA to learn more about our programs.