The Addictive Personality
The “addictive personality” was something I heard about a lot before I came into recovery. My dad would say things like, “You and I need to be careful about things like that. We have addictive personalities” in reference to things like alcohol or cigarettes. I never really understood what that meant. What I assumed it meant is that any time I experienced something I liked or that got me “high,” (like painkillers after a root canal), I tended to want more. That turned out to be true, for me, evidenced by the fact that I landed myself in rehab three different times.
Thinking back I had these addictive tendencies long before I ever tried drugs or alcohol. Books the first thing I experienced that “got me out of myself.” I began reading all the time-before breakfast, in the shower, at the dinner table. It was my obsession until I picked up my first drink, which gave me a much better high than books ever did.
People with an addictive personality tend to have more trouble dealing with stressful situations, lack self-esteem, and exhibit compulsive behavior. The addictive personality often leads to substance abuse, but people with this type of disorder can just as easily become addicted to sex, gambling, shopping, relationships, food, or drugs.
People with an addictive personality are much more prone to stress, anxiety and anger. They often do not do well in relationships and constantly seek the approval of others.
The traits of the addictive personality simply re-enforce the idea that addiction is a life-long disease. Even when substance abusers put down the substance, they have addictive personality traits that can manifest if they are not working a solid program of recovery.
Usually, the sequence of events goes like this, at least in my experience:
2. Feeling the need to act out
3. Acting out and feeling better
4. Pain from acting out.
People with addictive personality will stay locked in this cycle until they find a lasting way to deal with pain and restlessness. I tried many things to alleviate the anxiety I felt on a daily basis and to deal with pain. I used relationships, gossip, material possessions, sex, but all of these things only helped temporarily. Emotionally, addicts get intensity and intimacy confused. So when they act out, they create a state that they perceive as intimacy, and it works to fill the emotional void temporarily. Acting out becomes a substitute “high.”
Until we develop a solid program of recovery, we will continue to try to fill the emptiness left behind by drugs and alcohol. I needed to learn how to develop healthy relationships with other people and a solid connection with a higher power through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to embrace spiritual principles and practice them in my daily life. I had to help others, especially the addict who still suffers, giving to others what was so freely given me. The great news is, if I do things consistently, I become free of the anxiety-ridden compulsiveness of my addictive personality. I am able to live a life without drugs, alcohol, and other unhealthy behaviors. I am free, and I am happy.
If you or a loved one is in need of drug and/or alcohol addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.