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Do “Addictive Personalities” Exist?

by General Marketing

The short answer is no. The concept of an addictive personality has no medical or scientific basis and is more of a colloquial expression people use to signify something that is much more serious and complicated. As addiction science progresses, researchers and medical professionals who are specialized in the field have come to resent the trope as it minimizes the severity of substance use disorder as a disease and inhibits understanding and importance of treatment.

Battling Stigma

Substance use disorder is still shrouded in stigma, making it difficult for people who are struggling to reach out and ask for help. For far too long, people have seen addiction as something that only affects those with poor character, and they become dependent on drugs because they’re selfish, weak, and out of control. This point of view ignores the very science behind addiction, which can be proven with mountains of data and analysis that it’s not simply a personality flaw, but a treatable, chronic disease.

With other chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many others, people aren’t blamed for their ailment based on their character traits, and addiction should be seen the same way. People shouldn’t be defined by their diagnoses; yet, the term “addictive personality” seems to persist in society which proves people still tend to see the illness from a moral standing, viewing those who struggle as unethical or less deserving of empathy. These attitudes continue to promote a harmful stigma that prevents people from entering treatment for their illness, furthering their suffering and increasing the chances of needless deaths.

Common Misconceptions

People who know little about addiction falsely assume the following:

  • Individuals with substance use disorder have a personality trait that paves the way for addiction and accelerates its development.
  • An addictive personality has predictive patterns of thought and behavior that involve a fixation on drug use and choosing to use drugs despite adverse consequences.
  • People with addictive personalities will always relapse and never recover because substance use is inherent in their character.

These false deductions actually shine a light on the type of effects substance misuse has on a person as a result of addiction, not because of a personality trait that caused the addiction. Few understand how drugs work to rewire the brain’s reward pathway to prioritize drug use and how painful and sometimes fatal withdrawal symptoms make it next to impossible for people to stop on their own. Furthermore, things like genetics, environment, and behavior all impact someone’s predisposition to addiction; however, it’s much more complex than simply having a “personality” that leads to a chronic illness.

There is still more work to do in spreading awareness and education about addiction and effective forms of treatment that can save many lives. With the opioid epidemic becoming deadlier than ever, it’s crucial for people who may be struggling with substance use disorder to have access to recovery resources, regardless of their socioeconomic standings, because it has now become an urgent matter of public health.

HCRC offers medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction with the help of specialized medical providers and substance use counselors. The compassionate and knowledgeable staff at HCRC outpatient clinics are dedicated to helping each enrolled patient achieve long-lasting recovery from substance use disorder for a brighter future. To learn more about the treatment programs available, message or call a nearby HCRC location today.

Medically Reviewed By:

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at Health Care Resource Centers is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. HCRC is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing addiction treatment services for over 32 years in the New England area.

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