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Addictive Personality Disorder

Discussing Addictive Personality Disorder

Addictive Personality Disorder refers to a particular collection of personality traits that makes a person more susceptible to developing addictions.

However, it should be noted that this term is not scientific and is used in colloquial parlance. Addiction to a substance may be triggered by various factors in a person’s life and innate personality is one of such factors. Recognizing Addictive Personality Disorder is helpful in designing proper recovery plan.

What is Addictive Personality Disorder?

While Addictive Personality Disorder does not have any scientific definition attached to it, the concept is of utmost importance. The disorder is generally defined as a spectrum of various behaviors which are defined as addictive.

The various factors which are responsible for Addictive Personality Disorder include biological factors, psychological factors and environmental factors. The interaction of these factors greatly influences a person’s susceptibility towards addictive behavior.

  • Biological Factors: Addictive Personality Disorder is governed by several biological factors including genetics. Increase in dopamine levels is considered one of the most prominent biological factors behind this disorder. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and regulates emotions, movements and feelings of pleasure. However, increase in this chemical may also make a person more likely to develop addictive behaviors.
  • Psychological Factors: Various psychological phenomenon including mental illnesses may also push a person towards addictive behavior. A person suffering from depression is also more likely to develop addictive behavior. Similarly, people with social alienation and deviant tendencies are also more susceptible to such behavior.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental factors refer to a person’s living conditions and life experiences. People who have undergone traumatic situations such as sexual abuse, childhood abandonment and parental abuse are more predisposed towards addictive behaviors. People who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder also often fall victim to substance abuse.

In most of the circumstances, it is the confluence of these factors which causes addictions. It is important to fully recognize such underlying reasons before recommending a treatment to the person.

Signs and Symptoms of Addictive Personality Disorder

Addictive Personality Disorder is defined as a spectrum, which means that its associated signs and symptoms vary from person to person. The intensity of these signs also differs for each person. Following are some of the most common signs exhibited by people afflicted with Addictive Personality Disorder.

  • Negative Self Image: This is one of the most prominent symptoms displayed by an addict. Such people generally suffer from self-image issues and have low sense of self-worth. Indulging in addictive behavior offers a rush to such people, providing a temporary respite. However, they soon fall back to the same pattern of self-pity.
  • Impulsive Behavior: People with Addictive Personality Disorder generally display impulsive behavior. Such people seek thrill and like to experiment with new things. However, their thrill seeking tendencies generally do not have any restraint. People with Addictive Personality Disorder tend to undertake such activities without properly considering their consequences. 
  • Low Commitment to Goals: People suffering from Addictive Personality Disorder also display weak resolve towards their goals. These people set up tasks for themselves. However, they lack the commitment to meet such goals. Such people also tend to change their goals and values on a frequent basis as they tend to abandon the unaccomplished tasks. Lack of consistency and commitment is a major precursor to Addictive Personality Disorder. 
  • Anxiety: Such people also tend to be more sensitive to emotional distress. Such response to uncomfortable situations leads to anxiety. Their inability to handle difficult circumstances may push them to find refuge in addictive behavior. Such anxiety is also behind the erratic behavior generally displayed by people suffering from Addictive Personality Disorder.
  • Inability to Control: Addictive Personality Disorder is also characterized by inability to rein in the compulsive behavior. The person may be aware of their addictive personality and their addictions, but they find themselves unable to pull out of such behavior pattern. This problem is further compounded by their low will power and their tendency to feel easily bored.

Addictive Behavior Manifestation and Treatment

Contrary to popular misconception, addictive behavior is not limited to alcoholism or street drugs. People end up getting addicted to prescription medicines, gambling, shopping and video games, among other things.

However, in such ambiguous cases, it is important to draw proper distinction between simple commitment and obsessive behavior. Generally, a person is considered an addict when their obsessive behavior starts to cause more negative influence than positive.

The treatment for Addictive Personality Disorder should start with the treatment of the primary addiction. Once such behavior is brought under control, then therapeutic treatment for long-term recovery may be initiated.

The most common therapies used for this purpose include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and related behavioral treatments. In many cases, the treatment may include medication as well. However, it should be ensured that such treatment is undertaken with proper medical and professional supervision.

Additional References: HealthGuidance.orgWebMDPsychology Today,

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