A Cup of Coffee – Addictive Personalities

Welcome back! Last week, we talked about smelly urine and its causes. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.

Have you ever known someone (maybe it’s you) who would slide from one thing to another, always overdoing whatever it is they are attracted to at that time? Maybe they started out abusing drugs, then stopped that but started drinking, then got sober, but moved on to gambling, then stopped that but started to hoard cats?

While there is no firm diagnosis for “Addictive Personality”, there is a cluster of symptoms that can point in that direction. An addictive personality is a set of traits that make you more likely to develop substance use disorder or other addictions. Something that starts out innocently enough, can quickly gain traction and suddenly be all-consuming.

Here are some signs to look for if you are concerned you may be on this track:


We’ve all jumped in without looking to see if there’s water in the pool. Don’t get it twisted. This one trait does not, by itself, indicate a cause for concern. But combined with the other nine traits, you may want to pay attention. Making frequent decisions without thinking through the consequences, frequently buying more than you can afford, or losing your temper when it wasn’t warranted, are all signs of impulsivity. If you tend to make hasty decisions or feel out of control, you might be impulsive, and impulsivity is a common sign of an addictive personality.

You look for the thrills

Also known as “sensory seeking”, people who seek out new or intense experiences can often have an unhealthy sense of “adventure”. Maybe you like to travel or try new foods (not a big deal, right?), but this trait combined with the other 9 on this list means you could be more likely to be caught up in addiction.

Interestingly enough, a study reported that adolescents who were considered sensory seeking were significantly more likely to try addictive substances. 

You like your privacy

Privacy is one thing, but keeping secrets takes it to another level. If you’re secretly indulging in behaviors you feel bad about, it may suggest an addictive personality. 

Secrecy is a common trait of substance use disorder but secretive behavior can also be an indication of activities like gambling, shopping, and video games. If you feel the need to hide it, then “it” may be a problem.

You march to the beat of your own drum

If you consider yourself a rebel, just be aware that this is one of the traits that indicate addiction may be on the horizon.

Humans who march to the beat of their own drums are very often artistic or considered leaders among their peers.

If you find that you struggle to follow rules, then you may find that it’s harder to stick to healthy boundaries around that which entices you.

You just can’t stop obsessing

Struggling to distract yourself from obsessing over things means that you might have more difficulty breaking bad habits. Folks who are diagnosed with OCD often have co-occurring substance use disorders.

A history of mental illness

If you’ve already been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, then that means you are more likely to have a substance use disorder. Many with mental health diagnoses self-medicate to try and control their symptoms, such as someone who has social anxiety drinking too many drinks in order to cope.

You suffer from low self-esteem

When we feel bad about ourselves, we tend to be driven to do things that make us feel better. Getting “likes” on Facebook can improve how we feel about ourselves, and this can lead to internet addiction. Feelings of loneliness can be subdued when we log on and see all of our “friends” online, giving our brain that extra kick of dopamine.

This is the same reaction people get who gamble. When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you feel excited. You’d expect to only feel excited when you win, but your body produces this neurological response even when you lose.

Consider the Facebook comments and “likes” to be the jackpot of the internet!

You have a high-risk/high-reward drive

If you have a high risk, high reward attitude, you may be a natural entrepreneur, but you might also have an addictive personality. 

People who are reward-motivated may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. A 2016 study showed cocaine users were more highly motivated to achieve rewards than the general population.

You have ADHD

If you have ADHD, you’re two to four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. The link between substance use disorder and ADHD continues to be studied, but brain differences that affect impulse control and reward systems likely play a role.

If you recognized yourself or a loved one in the reading of this blog, you may want to check in with your doctor. There are many ways to treat addiction, too many to cover here, and the best thing you can do is to get professional help.


As always, this blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider and put a good plan in place that works for you and the needs of your body.

That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.

Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!

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