Are some people more likely to develop an addiction than others?
Mental health experts caution against thinking that there are certain personalities that are prone to addiction. Often it is more of a combination of events and circumstances a person encounters rather than a specific personality trait.
If you think you have an increased risk of developing an addiction, keep reading to learn more and take our addictive personality quiz.
There are certain personality traits that can be observed in people who have a high risk of developing an addiction. However, the line is far from black and white. For example, scientific evidence indicates that neuroticism is a personality trait that many addicts possess — but not all individuals with a neurotic personality develop an addiction.
What does this mean? It means that an "addictive personality" is essentially a myth. Instead, a combination of potential mental health issues and other circumstances are more likely to lead to addiction than any one type of personality.
Another individual trait that can lead to addiction is the presence of pre-existing mental health issues. People who suffer from mental health conditions might try to self-medicate to relieve their symptoms. In doing so, they often turn to drugs and alcohol, becoming more and more dependent on them until they eventually develop an addiction.
For instance, schizophrenia has been shown to be linked to nicotine addiction. This is partly because nicotine can temporarily mitigate some symptoms of schizophrenia, and people might use cigarettes in an effort to self-medicate.
Other mental conditions that are prone to self-medicating attempts include:
People who have mood or anxiety disorders are nearly two times more likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general public, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When an addiction and mental illness occur at the same time it is called a dual diagnosis.
This means in addition to treating your addiction, you'll also receive treatment for your mental health disorder — which is most likely the underlying reason for the addiction. By treating both components at once, you'll have a better chance of achieving recovery.
There are many other factors that influence whether a person becomes addicted to drugs more easily than others.
The ability to deal with stress, resilience and a strong support system can help prevent addiction. For instance, someone with impulsivity may love to engage in high-risk activities but may instead choose to skydive rather than do drugs.
If you're curious to know whether your situation and mental health could make you more vulnerable to an addiction, write down ‘Yes’, ‘Sometimes’ or ‘No’ to the questions below on a piece a paper then use the key at the bottom to calculate the points. This quiz will not diagnose your condition. However, it will help you recognize whether indicators that could lead to addiction are present in your life.
Yes – 2 points
Sometimes – 1 point
No – 0 points
If you have a score of 7 or higher, you may be more likely to develop an addiction. If you answered ‘yes’ to one of the first five questions, you may want to see a therapist to help improve your mental health. And if you answered ‘yes’ to question 10, call our free confidential helpline immediately at (888) 205-9455.
No matter what leads to it, addiction is a serious condition that requires professional support to overcome, so taking control of your health before it’s too late is important. If you currently take drugs or drink alcohol and think you may be addicted, there’s no better place to turn to than our facility at Diamond House. Get in touch with us today.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 3rd, 2019.