What Causes Addictive Personality?

Learn about the causes of addictive personality and signs to look out for.

Causes of Addictive Personality

Table of Contents

What is Addictive Personality?

The concept of an addictive personality leads to many questions. Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? What is an addictive personality disorder? People frequently refer to someone as having addictive tendencies or an addictive personality. Still, they may be unaware of what that means and the negative impacts the addictive personality label can have on addiction recovery.

It’s not uncommon to hear people speak about addictive personalities. Perhaps they discuss their own perceived tendencies or those of a friend or loved one. However, what is an addictive personality? The idea of an addictive personality often brings to mind someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addictions. The person who is likely to develop or have an addictive personality is the individual who is at a greater risk for abusing substances.

A Further Look

The idea of a generic or broad-reaching addictive personality isn’t without conflict. Most researchers would suggest that no singular personality is more prone to addiction or the development of an addictive personality disorder. Addiction itself is a disease, not a personality trait or type.

Additionally, research studies indicate that no specific addictive personality type lends itself to addiction more than another. In short, an addictive personality is more likely, or at a greater risk of becoming addicted to everything or anything. This can be anything from video games, shopping, and food to drugs or alcohol.

Traits and Signs of Addictive Personality Disorder

While there is not a specific addictive personality “type” that increases your risk for addiction, there are certain addictive personality traits that may suggest someone is more likely to become addicted than someone else. Also, certain symptoms of addictive personality are often present in those who struggle with addictions.1


People with an addictive personality tend to exhibit obsessive behaviors. When they struggle with a particular addiction, they’ll obsess over satisfying the cravings associated with it. For example, someone addicted to food will obsess over their next meal, and someone addicted to shopping will obsess over when they can buy something next.

Criminal Behavior

When someone struggles with addiction, finances can quickly become a problem. As a result, a sign of an addictive personality disorder often includes increased criminal behavior such as stealing or other illegal activities that can lead to increased cash to support their addiction.

Adventurous and Risk-Taking

Being adventurous and taking risks can feel “exciting.” The search for excitement and new adventure often fuels an addictive personality. For some, a concerning addictive personality trait is actively engaging in potentially harmful or even known dangerous behaviors. Doing so increases the dopamine rush that causes pleasure.

Disconnected and Cautious

When addiction develops, a struggling addict often disconnects and keeps secrets from friends with loved ones. Because it’s not uncommon for their behaviors to be dangerous or illegal, caution and secrecy are often hallmark signs of an addictive personality. 

Keeping secrets from friends and loved ones is vital to continue addictive behaviors. In most cases, they can’t continue with their addictive behaviors if their friends and loved ones know. Therefore, secrecy is of the utmost importance.

Obsessive and Compulsive

In addition to obsessing about the source of their addiction, another addictive personality trait is engaging in compulsive behaviors. They may continue to do things related to their addiction that please them or achieve their goals despite knowing their harmful behaviors. Unfortunately, the overwhelming desire to satisfy their addiction outweighs the desire to stop engaging in activities that lead to dangerous results.


Another sign of an addictive personality is apathy or apathetic behavior. In this case, a struggling addict is often concerned only about satisfying cravings or urges; other obligations or responsibilities become far less important than participating in behaviors that will fulfill their addiction. 

This particular addictive personality trait can be difficult for friends and loved ones as it seems their family member or friend cares about nothing other than their addiction.

Revolving Relationships

Unfortunately, the common addictive personality traits such as lying, stealing, and manipulative behavior often lead to a string of failed relationships. Also, many people with addictive personalities struggle with consistency. Therefore, seeking out new and exciting things often leads to short-lived personal and social relationships.

Risk Factors for Addictive Personality

Causes and Risk Factors for Addictive Personality

In addition to characteristics of an addictive personality, several risk factors or causes could increase one’s risk of struggles with an addictive personality disorder. While there is no specific answer to “what causes addictive personality,” science suggests various possible factors. 

As noted above, no particular personality is more likely to exhibit addictive tendencies than another. Because the mental health community doesn’t have an addictive personality test to use, it’s necessary to look at the whole person and their mental health history when assessing addictive personality disorder.

Genetics and Family History

Researchers suggest there is a possible genetic connection to addiction. Several studies indicate that genetic factors may account for up to 50% of the possibility someone could develop addictive tendencies.2

Environmental Factors

The environment where someone lives or works can significantly impact their physical and psychological health. It can also play a role in the development of addictive tendencies. 

Someone who spends considerable time with similar mindsets or drug addiction personalities may experience a greater risk. Examples of environmental factors that may contribute to an elevated risk for addictive personality disorder include:

  • Your social circles.
  • Your home environment.
  • Your educational or employment background.
  • The level of social support you have.

Mental Health Conditions

Your mental health also contributes to addiction. When someone struggles with a mental illness, it can lead to self-medication or using drugs and alcohol to cope with painful or challenging emotions. Several common mental health diagnoses may increase one’s risk for developing addictive tendencies, including depression, trauma disorders, anxiety, and obsessive disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.3

What causes addictive personality disorder must be answered by considering various factors. Like many mental health challenges, there is no addictive personality test that indicates one’s risk. Also, there is no singular answer, but with adequate addictive personality treatment at a dual diagnosis treatment program, it’s possible to manage addictive personality disorder symptoms.

Impact of the Addictive Personality Concept

Addiction is a complex and challenging issue. The “addictive personality” concept doesn’t necessarily highlight addiction’s potential physical and psychological dangers. Pointing to an addictive personality or subscribing to the idea that someone engages in a particular behavior due to “just having” a particular tendency leads to a significant underestimation of the genuine risk of addiction.

Pointing towards an addictive personality as a reason for one’s behavior also reduces one’s motivation to create change. If someone who struggles with addiction believes they’re doomed to addictive behaviors because of a perceived set of personality traits, they may feel that change cannot occur.

Because an addictive personality test isn’t possible, it’s necessary to consider your addictive personality risk factors. Someone who has an increased risk for developing addictive tendencies should avoid particular behaviors that could evolve into struggles with addiction. Addictions can and frequently do grow out of using specific behaviors to satisfy cravings or achieve relaxation and comfort.

Don’t Eat for Comfort

Using food for comfort is a common problem. Often called “stress eating,” or various other names, eating to alleviate depression or anxiety isn’t helpful if you’re at a greater risk for addictive personality disorder. Also, binge eating can lead to obesity, food addictions, and eating disorders.

Don’t Self-Medicate with Drugs

Millions of people turn to drugs (or alcohol) to self-medicate symptoms. Using drugs to alleviate pain or mental health challenges can quickly lead to other struggles. Using drugs to “solve problems” is a potentially dangerous way to alleviate symptoms. Self-medication is often at the root of many substance use disorders.

Don’t Use Marijuana to Relax

Some people use marijuana to relax and ease tension. Unfortunately, while this may seem helpful in the short term when the effects of marijuana wear off, it can increase your anxiety and tension. This leads to a cycle of continually using marijuana to relieve increasing anxiety and stress.

Don’t Believe Quitting Is Too Difficult

If you struggle with an addictive personality disorder, you may believe there is no way to overcome your struggles. This is not the case, and with help and treatment, it’s possible to overcome addiction.

Don’t Wait to Get Help

It’s not necessary and unsafe to wait until you’re “at your worst” before trying to get better. Although there isn’t an addictive personality test to point to a diagnosis, if you struggle with addiction, getting help from a professional treatment program is the best step towards caring for your physical and emotional health.

How to Overcome an Addictive Personality Disorder?

Overcome an Addictive Personality Disorder

Overcoming addictive personality disorder is possible. There are several ways you can put struggles with addiction in the past and move forward without the challenges that addiction creates in your life. While seeking professional help is an excellent first step, you can also make lifestyle changes at home that may help distract from addictive tendencies before they evolve into problematic behaviors. Common examples include:

  • Practicing mindful meditation.
  • Creating healthy boundaries with friends and family.
  • Journaling.
  • Developing a solid support structure of like-minded peers (or mental health providers).
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Working with a sponsor or peer support group.

The most effective way to overcome an addictive personality disorder for you is likely different than anyone else. A key factor in addiction treatment is individualized care. It’s essential to find the combination of traditional therapy and lifestyle changes that works for you. If you need help along the way or would like to learn more about tools for addictive personality disorder treatment, contact us a The PAC Program to learn more about how we can help.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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