Attempts to define predispositions to drug addiction resulted in numerous psychological researches and theories. Even though there is no 100% accurate profile of an addict-would-be, scientists believe that people who have higher chances to get addicted, do share specific personality traits.
As there are genetic predispositions for different diseases such as diabetes or epilepsy, there are psychological characteristics which make a person more prone to substance abuse.
Although every addiction story is pretty much unique, they all share something in common. So in order to protect ourselves and our beloved ones, it is important to be aware of existing risk factors. Here are some of the particular qualities that might lead to addictive behaviour.
Medical staff knows pretty well that addicted people, who undergo holistic rehabilitation (find out more), differ from others in a specific way. There is always something extreme about them – they are either withdrawn or way too active, very nervous or overly laid back.
Psychologists confirm – extreme personality traits play a major role in increasing the odds of addiction development. People that have a prominent and accentuated personality experience difficulties in regulating their emotions and behavior which eventually may result in drug consumption as a kind of destructive self-regulation mechanism.
2. Five-factor peronality model
One of the most popular models to describe a person is a so-called five-factor model (FFM). This model characterizes a person using five main pairs of opposite traits such as openness to experience (curious or cautious); conscientiousness (organized or careless), extraversion (an outgoing and energetic extravert or solitary and reserved introvert); agreeableness (compassionate or detached) and neuroticism (sensitive and nervous or secure and confident).
By using questionnaire and testing these traits among drug addicts researches came to the conclusion that there is a significant difference in the psychological profiles of drug users and non-users. In general, addicted people are characterized by higher neuroticism, openness to experience and lower agreeableness and conscientiousness. It means that drug users are prone to experience such negative feelings as loneliness, anxiety, depression, fear, and anger more often, than people, who don’t use drugs.
Addicted people are also less goal-oriented and might be undependable; they show lower self-discipline, display spontaneous behavior or find it hard to stick to a plan.
3. Distressing feelings
Anxiety and depression seem to be one of the biggest challenges modern people struggle with. Evolutionally worry and anxiety exist to help us be aware of the environment and look out for dangers that we might face. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it starts working against us – we become afraid of things and situations that mean no harm.
These unreasonable levels of anxiety paired with depression often become a trigger for drug abuse that over time evolves into addiction. Patients in holistic addiction treatment centers often refer to drugs as both anxiety reducing and, ironically, anxiety boosting substances – when addiction is established drugs may cause even more anxiety than a person initially experienced due to withdrawal symptoms.
Depression is another psychological and physiological condition that may serve as a predisposition to drug addiction. Depressed individuals desperately seek rescue from negative things they experience and often find remedy in drugs.
Both anxiety and depression might indicate a person’s general vulnerability and problems that he or she experiences in interaction with the world and other people.
4. Mental disorders
Drug consumption also may start as an attempt to get rid of the psychological discomfort caused by mental illnesses. A person may not be aware of a disorder she or he has but suffer from its symptoms without proper treatment.
One of the ways to diminish these symptoms is substance abuse. Disorders that correlate with drug abuse include schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder.
5. Sensation seeking and troublesome drug users
Analyzing existing traits that are connected with addictive behavior, researchers divide addicts into two major groups. The first type of drug users are “experimentalists”. They are characterized as straightforward, open to new experiences, and sensation-seeking. They mainly resort to using drugs as one of the ways to achieve specific states of mind and experience unusual mental sensations.
This drug user profile also correlates with impulsivity – a personality trait due to which an individual gets engaged in unplanned behavior, acts quickly without proper consideration of possible consequences and outcomes. Another type is a so-called “troubled drug user”.
These people are generally reserved, emotionally vulnerable, susceptible and compulsive. Thus, they use drugs to get rid of distressing emotions and feel more peaceful. Understanding the psychological profile of a drug user is extremely important in creating personalized holistic recovery programs.
Taking into account described characteristics, people have more personality predispositions to substance abuse need to be more self-aware to prevent it. It’s necessary for them to learn self-regulation techniques, reduce anxiety, control impulsiveness, and be able to restore inner balance