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Why The Term Addictive Personality Shouldn’t Exist

Why The Term Addictive Personality Shouldn’t Exist

The myth of the addictive personality has been well-established in our conversations around behavior, personality, and substance abuse since the 1990s. At that time, the phrase became a selling point for pharmaceutical companies as they began to roll out mass production of OxyContin. Certain companies told doctors that only patients with “addictive personalities” could become addicted to the medication. This mindset took most of the pressure off pharmaceutical companies for any of the consequences that their products might create down the road. 

An addictive personality, as the myth would have it, fixates–sometimes obsessively–on activities that the person likes or enjoys. People with this personality type might also engage in risky or thrill-seeking behavior. They tend to have a history of a substance use disorder (SUD), abuse substances from time to time, or struggle with self-discipline and controlling impulses. In the end, the main characteristic of an “addictive personality” is being prone to addiction. 

From a scientific and psychological standpoint, there is no such thing as an addictive personality. No one factor–whether personality type, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, income level, or educational background–determines whether or not someone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. It’s crucial to understand that within the recovery and health and wellness fields, an addictive personality does not exist

What Do People Mean When They Say You Have An Addictive Personality?

People toss around the term “addictive personality” frequently. Some parents, for example, may see that their teen displays intense interest in certain activities, friends, or trends and label their child as having an addictive personality. They may label their child as an addictive personality when the child responds poorly to ordinary environmental stress with heightened levels of anger, anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness.  

Friends or peers may see that you tend to party hard after a long week and decide to designate you as an addictive personality. They may also point to your obsessive or compulsive behavioral tendencies as evidence.  

When you hear someone use this term, start a conversation. You could ask, “Can you tell me what you mean by that term?” A question like this might help steer conversation to a productive place where myths can be dismantled.  

Should I Go To Therapy if People Tell Me I Have an Addictive Personality?

At Miramont Behavioral Health Center, we encourage everyone to go to therapy when they’re dealing with mental or emotional difficulties that don’t seem to resolve on their own. However, if you’re worried that you might have “an addictive personality” because you tend to fixate on things or substances or behaviors in unhealthy ways, talking with a therapist can help you uncover a more accurate diagnosis. 

At Miramont, we can assess you for a possible anxiety disorder, which is often indicated by the following symptoms:

  • Thinking the worst is always about to happen
  • Frequent shaking, sweating, or increased heart rate
  • Frequent diarrhea or vomiting, especially in situations that feel threatening 
  • Attention deficits
  • Excessively worrying

Naturally, we’ll also evaluate whether an SUD is actually at play. If you’re someone who struggles intensely with painful withdrawal symptoms when you’re not using your substance of choice or find it exceptionally difficult to control cravings, use, and consequences of the substance–you’re probably dealing with an advanced SUD. We’re equipped to help you in all cases.

Miramont Behavioral Health Focuses On Personal Experience, Complexity, and Care

Our patients are not myths, nor are their personalities fundamentally flawed. Poor mental health and addiction occur for numerous, nuanced reasons. When we shed this idea that an individual with anxiety, neurosis, addiction, or another mental health disorder has “brought it upon themselves,” we liberate millions of people and their loved ones. 

We encourage all of our inpatient residents and outpatient clients to remember that there is no no scientific basis for an addictive personality and that mental health is much more complex than the repercussions of specific personality traits. 

Contact us today, and our Wisconsin facilities will support you with personalized mental and psychological health programs and resources!

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