The current standard in understanding addiction assumes that specific personality traits can sometimes be indicators of a person’s risk in developing dependency and addiction to harmful substances. It is important for those who are beginning to realize they require help and concerned family members to try and learn what they can in regards to understanding the reasons and patterns associated with addiction.
The following are some of the most common personality traits:
- Low self-esteem
- Alienation from others
- Impulsivity and risk taking
- Value or respect for “nonconformity” in others
- High levels of extraversion or self-monitoring
- Anti-social behavior
- Unable to delay gratification
- Tolerance of surrounding deviant behaviors and individuals
- Rebellious behavior as a child or young adult
- Large amounts of social anxiety and self-consciousness
- Maladaptive behaviors involving rituals, aggression or self-harm used to cope with a situation
- Existing in a high-stress environment (relative to the individual) and lacking coping skills
- Attention seeking and hyper-sexuality
The Role of Genetics in Addiction
We know that genetics are proven to play a role in addiction, and that they can provide the baseline or blueprint to the personality traits described. Without the genetic predisposition, the manifestation of related mental health conditions/disorders will not occur. The New Frontiers article, ‘Addiction and Choice: Theory and new data’ contains a number of collated studies that brings us up to date on the genetic factors that predispose addiction risk.
In addition to the basic personality traits agreed to be prevalent in addiction, it is important to realize that not all substance users will become heavily dependent. According to a New York Times article, up to 20% of the populous reportedly will never become addicted to substances due to the feel-good hormone, anandamide. The hormone has a calming effect, and while everyone has the chemical, a percentage of the population has more due to having less of the FAAH enzyme that stops the chemical working its beneficial properties.
This alone means that a staggering number of people don’t have this chemical in good supply, meaning they are all at risk of developing addiction. This supports why we must continue to research and treat those with addiction-friendly genes. With greater understanding of the physiological reasons for behavior, we also open up future opportunities to treat addiction via medication to settle those with likely chemical imbalances.
What Makes Us Different
The way we are genetically programmed differs from person to person, with certain mental health conditions now understood to have distinct differences in brain chemistry, stemming from genetic mutations over many years of evolution. Our genes are dependent on hereditary inheritance and also react to the environments we live in.
The way we absorb the Dopamine hormone is of particular note. They say that approximately two thirds of the population have a normal receptor, while around 30% carry a genetically different dopamine response, and have up to 40% lower amount of dopamine receptors - meaning that they will be much more likely to seek out artificial flushes of dopamine or pleasure-seeking activities to feel good. This may be far too an excessive response for those with the first D2DR type 2 gene – or those with more receptors. The 30 percent of those with this mutation are more susceptible to drink and drug addiction and need more of a substance to feel the same high or effect - also explaining ‘tolerance’. The D2DR type 1 population are natural ‘risk-takers’ – born with impulsivity – possibly due to the physiological reactions they are naturally in built to have – they essentially need more of a stimulant (whether a substance or an experience) to ‘feel’ to the same levels than others in the population.
The more information available to the addict and their immediate circle of support is critical in creating the best chances to recover and stay clean. Taking the first step is often the hardest part of the journey, and admitting to oneself that there is a real problem is a clichéd yet very real part of the recovery process. The will to want to recover and change a lifestyle in all areas will, by and large, be far more likely to see a person succeed and break free from a lifetime of addiction. The cycle of behaviors and coping mechanisms seen in addictive personalities can be recognized by experts but also via decent online research for those to begin self-assessment.
Our network of UK-Rehab.com clinics includes specialists in every form of addiction or destructive compulsive behavior. It includes NHS rehab programs, private rehab centers and even luxury rehab clinics. NHS rehab funding restricts the number and availability of alcohol and drug rehab treatment centres offering free addiction treatment, so there may be waiting lists and outpatient counseling may be compulsory before you can get residential rehabilitation.