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10 Signs You May Have an Addictive Personality

What Is an Addictive Personality?

An addictive personality is a set of traits that make you more likely to develop a substance use disorder or other addictions. When you have an addictive personality, behaviors that start innocently can spiral out of control.

An addictive personality isn’t a diagnosable condition but recognizing common signs of an addictive personality can help you acknowledge or avoid problems. Read on to see if you recognize these 10 common addictive personality signs.

You’re Impulsive

Do you often make decisions without thinking about the consequences? Maybe you frequently buy more than you can afford or lose your temper. If you tend to make hasty decisions or feel out of control, you might be impulsive, and impulsivity is a common sign of an addictive personality.

You’re Sensory Seeking

Seeking out new or intense experiences can lead to a healthy sense of adventure — you may be more likely to travel or try new foods, for example — but it can also be part of an addictive personality.

In a 2015 study, adolescents who were considered sensory seeking were significantly more likely to try addictive substances.

You’re Secretive About Your Behaviors

It’s normal to want privacy sometimes, but if you’re secretly indulging in behaviors, you feel bad about, it may suggest an addictive personality.

Secrecy is a common trait of a substance use disorder, but secretive behavior can also be a red flag for activities like gambling, shopping, and video games.

You’re a Rebel

People who march to the beat of their own drums are often natural leaders or artists. Still, non-conformists may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

If you struggle to follow the rules — even rules you’ve set for yourself — it may be harder to keep healthy boundaries around addictive behaviors and substances.

You’re Obsessive

If you obsess over things and have difficulty distracting yourself, you may have more difficulty breaking unhealthy habits, making this an addictive personality trait.

For people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, some estimates put the rate of co-occurring substance use disorder as high as 40%.

You Have a History of Anxiety or Depression

People with anxiety or depression are two to three times more likely to have a substance use disorder than the general population.

Anxiety or depression can lead people to use addictive substances to try to control their symptoms - like someone with social anxiety having too many drinks.

You Have Low Self Esteem

If you feel bad about yourself, you may feel driven to do things to make yourself feel better — even things that aren’t healthy.

A 2014 study found that college students with low self-esteem were at higher risk for internet addiction than the general population.

You’re Reward Driven

If you have a high risk, high reward attitude, you may be a natural entrepreneur, but you might also have an addictive personality.

People who are reward-motivated may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. A 2016 study showed cocaine users were more highly motivated to achieve rewards than the general population.

You Have ADHD

If you have ADHD, you’re two to four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. The link between substance use disorder and ADHD continues to be studied, but brain differences that affect impulse control and reward systems likely play a role.

You Have a Family History of Addiction

A family history of addiction is a significant risk factor, and both genetics and environment contribute. If you have family members who struggle with addiction, you might have inherited traits that make you more susceptible.

For example, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop substance use disorder than the general population.


The Missing Link to Long-Term Recovery

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD, on June 10, 2022

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