In their enthusiasm to describe something extra delicious or especially satisfying, people sometimes use the term addictive. For instance, you may have heard a friend exclaim something along the lines of, “These strawberry macarons are so addictive, I can’t seem to get enough of them!” While obviously an enthusiastic exaggeration on your friend’s part, there also lies an underlying vein of truth in such a statement. Unlike alcohol and other notorious street drugs, desserts (or distance running, television shows, and yoga classes, for that matter) aren’t actually physically addictive. But for those people with what’s known as an addictive personality, they (and a wide variety of other activities) are all candidates for a psychological addiction.
Characteristics of an Addictive Personality
In short, the phrase addictive personality describes the features of someone’s personality that actually can promote the development of an addiction, whether that may be to a substance or a behavior.
Studies show that there are physical, psychological, and environmental components that can influence addictive behavior. While genetics and how one’s brain is “wired” do play a role, most research points to one’s environment as what may be the most influential factor in prompting an addiction to actually take hold. In other words, someone’s genetic predisposition to addictive behavior often means very little, that is until something occurs to trigger it into action. Extreme stress or a traumatic experience is often at the root of an addictive personality finally revealing itself to the world.
Again, that addiction does not necessarily have to be to a drug. For someone with an addictive personality, it can also be an activity such as gambling, exercise, eating, or even using a cell phone. It’s more than a pastime or routine, and beyond a hobby or a habit. It’s more along the lines of feeling that they have to or need to rather than simply wanting to do them. They may also switch from one addiction to another, for instance trading the hours spent on the Internet for time at the gym. Mood swings, low self-esteem, and impulsivity are also signs of an addictive personality.
If you or anyone you know displays these types of behaviors, please schedule an appointment with a health care provider for an initial evaluation. Addictive Personality Disorder is considered a brain disease, and should be assessed and treated accordingly.