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What Does Having An “Addictive Personality” Really Mean?

Your idea of someone with an “addictive personality” is probably inaccurate.

In pop culture, this persona is associated with specific traits or characteristics that are recognizable just by looking at someone. However, in reality, having addictive tendencies and living with addiction is hardly so simple.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, much of the conversation surrounding addiction is clouded by misconceptions and inaccuracies. Keep reading this blog to learn the truth about having an “addictive personality” and what it actually means.

What Is an Addictive Personality?

When people talk about having an addictive personality, they’re typically referring to characteristics that might make someone more prone to addiction.

However, an “addictive personality” isn’t the by-product of a single trait. Rather, separate characteristics and other factors—such as a person’s environment or genetics—are the underlying causes of a predisposition.

These personality characteristics can vary, but may include impulsivity, seeking out intense or thrilling experiences, feeling low self-esteem, and having trouble dealing with stress. People with these characteristics are often (but not always) more likely to abuse substances, gamble, take part in high-risk sexual activity, or other dopamine-boosting activities.

But remember: Addiction is influenced by many factors, meaning not everyone with these traits is at risk of developing an addiction. If you’re wondering how to know if you have an “addictive personality,” it’s by first abandoning this narrow conception.

Addiction Risk Factors Explained

Rather than boiling things down to an “addictive personality,” it is more productive to study the underlying causes that can contribute to predispositions.


Some individuals are more likely to develop an addiction because of their genetic predisposition. While not everyone with a family history of addiction will develop an addiction themselves, studies have shown it does increase their risk.

Your Environment

Environmental factors—such as peer pressure, education, or social activities—all play a significant role in addiction. Being frequently exposed to an environment in which substance abuse is present can increase the chances of developing an addiction. People do what they know, so seeing these behaviours normalized is dangerous.


Stressful life situations can also be a contributing factor.

People experiencing chronic stress, trauma, or other emotional difficulties may turn to substances or risky behaviours to cope with or escape their problems. This is because toxic substances alter brain chemicals and trick your mind into thinking it is “relieving” itself from the emotional pain as you self-medicate.

A person shuffling cards.

Warning Signs In Your Personality

Determining whether you may be at risk of developing an addiction is not simple, but there are some signs that could point in that direction:

Impulsive Urges

Do you frequently act on impulses without considering the potential consequences?

Poor impulse control is indicative of compulsive behaviour, which can lead you down the path of addiction in extreme cases. People with the personality to routinely act without weighing how their choices might affect them or other people are at an especially greater risk of developing unhealthy habits when it comes to substances.

Never Feeling Satisfied

Do you always want more?

Maybe you feel you always need to order that extra cocktail at the bar during happy hour, buy one more pair of shoes, or place one more bet on the game before it starts.

No matter your vice, if you find yourself constantly seeking more, you should consider how it can lead you down the path toward addiction. Feeling the need to consume larger quantities of something to re-create a “high” is never a healthy practice.

Constant Denial

Are you in constant denial?

Addicts frequently refute their addiction. This typically results in them telling lies to others until they’ve trapped themselves in a web of dishonesty. Or, in some cases, they reach a point where they’ve told so many lies that they actually start to believe them.

Manipulative Tendencies

Do you manipulate others to get what you want?

On the road to addiction, people often find themselves manipulating others to continue engaging in their harmful behaviour. This could involve guilting people into giving you money to buy drugs, or making them feel bad for trying to hold you accountable.

Regardless of how it’s done, being manipulated often ends relationships and leads people to sever ties on bad terms. Nobody wants to feel used. Unfortunately, the consequences of losing your support system can be devastating.

 a person speaking with a therapist

The “Addictive Personality” is a Harmful Stereotype

With all of this having been said, the idea of having an “addictive personality” can be a harmful stereotype. It can lead us to label people or stigmatize them rather than position ourselves as helpful allies for those who may be struggling.

This stereotype can also:

  • Lead people to falsely believe they aren’t at risk of falling into addiction because they don’t fall into a “category” or have the personality of an addict
  • Making people who suffer from addiction believe they cannot change or recover because they’re just inherently someone with an addictive personality
  • Imply to those suffering from addiction that some of the characteristics they may see in themselves—such as being impulsive or a manipulator—means they can never grow into a better person

Fight Stigma With Professional Help

Addiction is a disease, not a personality type.

Addiction affects all kinds of people, including those with goals, flourishing social lives, or otherwise perfect reputations. Having a so-called “addictive personality” is not something that should stop you from growing into the best version of yourself.

Freedom From Addiction offers a variety of treatment programs designed to address different forms of addiction and accommodate different needs. If you think you might be suffering from an addiction or have a family member who is, you should seek out the help of a medical professional.

Recovery takes time, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Talk to one of our consultants today to get started.


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