A Cup of Coffee – Do You Have An Addictive Personality?

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Photo credit above: American Addiction Centers

Have you, or someone you know, ever appeared to kick one addiction, only to migrate on to another addiction? Some people can quit smoking cold turkey, but then they start eating in excess, and without therapy, they’ve fallen into what is known as “white knuckling” their addiction issues. They may have been able to successfully stop smoking, but they had to replace it with something else because they didn’t get to the bottom of why they were addicted, to begin with.

Some people cycle through, hopping from one thing to another, and they really don’t want to attend therapy or get any kind of substantial help for their addictions. They may have what is called “an addictive personality”. Is this you? Let’s chat…

What Is an Addictive Personality?

Well, let’s start out with one fact. According to American Addiction Centers, “Most researchers in addiction today would caution against the idea of a single, generic personality that is prone to addiction. An article in Scientific American verifies and offers evidence for the fact that there is no one personality type that leads to addiction. In fact, some seemingly disparate traits can lead different people to become addicted to drugs or alcohol, depending on other factors“.

There are some common traits that many addicts have in common

There is a set of traits that make you more likely to develop substance use disorder or other addictions. When you have these traits, behaviors that start innocently can spiral out of control.

An addictive personality isn’t a diagnosable condition but recognizing common signs of someone more prone to addiction can help you acknowledge or avoid problems.

“There are traits that can be recognized in people who have a higher risk of becoming addicted to psychoactive substances rather than just being able to moderate behavior around these types of substances. People with this higher addiction risk 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”

You’re Impulsive

Do you often make decisions without thinking about the consequences? Maybe you frequently buy more than you can afford or lose your temper. If you tend to make hasty decisions or feel out of control, you might be impulsive, and impulsivity is a common sign of addictive traits. 

You’re Adventurous and Risk-Taking

Seeking out new or intense experiences can lead to a healthy sense of adventure — you may be more likely to travel or try new foods, for example. 

Some personality traits have a higher risk of addiction than others. Individuals who like to take risks and who have little impulse control around experimenting and playing with new experiences and dangerous activities are more likely to try drugs. A study reported by Reuters indicates that this may have to do with the individual’s levels of dopamine and the brain’s sensitivity to it“.

You’re Secretive About Your Behaviors

It’s normal to want privacy sometimes, but if you’re secretly indulging in behaviors you feel bad about, it may suggest a potential problem with addiction. 

Secrecy is a common trait of substance use disorder but secretive behavior can also be a red flag for activities like gambling, shopping, and video games. 

You’re a Rebel

People who march to the beat of their own drums are often natural leaders or artists. Still, non-conformists may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. 

If you struggle to follow rules — even rules you’ve set for yourself — it may be harder to keep healthy boundaries around addictive behaviors and substances. 

You’re Obsessive

If you obsess over things and have difficulty distracting yourself, you may have more difficulty breaking unhealthy habits. 

For people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, some estimates put the rate of co-occurring substance use disorder as high as 40%.

Do you Have a History of Anxiety or Depression?

People with anxiety or depression are two to three times more likely to have a substance use disorder than the general population.

Anxiety or depression can lead people to use addictive substances to try to control their symptoms – like someone with social anxiety having too many drinks.

You Have Low Self Esteem

If you feel bad about yourself, you may feel driven to do things to make yourself feel better — even things that aren’t healthy. 

A 2014 study found that college students with low self-esteem were at higher risk for internet addiction than the general population.

You’re Unable to Self-Regulate

This is the inability of an individual to regulate behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that might otherwise enable an ability to moderate the use of alcohol or other substances. As explained in an article from the University of Rochester Medical Center, studies are beginning to show that an inability to regulate behavior around the anticipation of receiving a reward is strongly linked to the development of addiction.

However, this is not the end of the issue. Individuals who pursue the idea of reward so strongly often do not experience as much pleasure from having gotten the reward as those who do not have this issue. This diminished sense of pleasure leads the person to push harder to win more in the hope that the reward response might be stronger. This, again, is linked with the person’s levels of, and sensitivity to, dopamine and potentially to other neurochemicals as well”.

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.

You Have a Family History of Addiction

A family history of addiction is a significant risk factor, and both genetics and environment contribute. If you have family members who struggle with addiction, you might have inherited traits that make you more susceptible. 

For example, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop substance use disorder than the general population.

Stay ahead of the addiction

If you recognized yourself in any of these examples, then I would encourage you to talk with your doctor. You may be able to do some things to prevent your life from going down a very difficult path. If you have already started down the path of addiction, then that’s even more reason to check in with your doctor. Get help. You deserve to live a life free of addiction. I believe in you. Borrow some of my hope for you until you can cobble together some hope of your own. Be well…


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!


  1. I think it’s important to trace the origin of the above behaviors to fully understand what puts a person at risk of addictive behaviors – Adverse Childhood Events, or ACE. Children with high ACE scores (abuse, chaotic homes, addicted parents to name a few) are much more likely to be risk takers, to be depressed, to have trouble with relationships – and to become addicted. We can prevent substance abuse disorder by intervening early.

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