What Personality Traits Play a Role in Addiction?

Substance use disorder is one of the most challenging conditions to define. Not only is there such a wide range of substances that a person may use, but there are also various symptoms that can accompany different types of addiction. Moreover, each person living with addiction has a unique personality and background that influences their experience with substance abuse.

While it’s important to honor everyone’s unique needs as they battle drug or alcohol addiction, it’s equally crucial to recognize the similarities that are shared by substance users. There are several key personality traits that are indicative of addiction, and familiarizing yourself with these characteristics can enable you to recognize a substance use problem.

If you identify any of these characteristics in yourself or someone close to you, it may be time to seek help for alcohol or drug addiction. Here are some of the most common personality traits that are strongly linked to substance abuse.


It’s important to take calculated risks in life when the time is right. For example, you might accept a job offer that requires you to move across the country if the role is important to you. In this scenario, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, a conclusion you arrive at after careful thought and consideration. However, people who are natural risk-takers take frequent leaps that aren’t necessarily well thought out.

Individuals with a thrill-seeking personality usually enjoy activities that force them outside of their comfort zones. They might participate in extreme sports, drive recklessly or have multiple sexual partners instead of a stable boyfriend or girlfriend. No matter how they choose to act on their innate desire for adventure, risk takers share one common goal: to constantly seek out new sensations and experiences.

One of the most common behaviors observed in risk-taking individuals is substance abuse. Many substances trigger intense, euphoric sensations that appeal to thrill seekers, who are always chasing down their next high. Because teenagers and young adults are more likely to have sensation-seeking personalities, they are often at a high risk of developing an addictive disorder.


Individuals with impulsive tendencies often take action without considering the potential consequences. They are typically ruled by emotions as opposed to rational thinking, which drives them to engage in risky activities. These actions may feel good in the moment, but they lead to unpleasant effects in the long term. An impulsive person, however, does not give much thought to the negative impact of what they’ve chosen to do.

It isn’t uncommon for someone with an impulsive personality to develop an addictive disorder. Because they only consider the short-term effects of substance use, they may repeatedly turn to drugs or alcohol while solely focusing on the immediate high they get from the substance.

Needless to say, this thought process can be destructive in the long run. If someone continues to chase the feeling they get in the moment, they may soon find themselves on the path toward a full-blown addiction.


It’s great to celebrate individuality and to embrace who you are in all your uniqueness. However, some people place too much emphasis on what makes them different from others. This can lead them to believe that they don’t fit in, which may cause them to withdraw from society. Over time, a nonconformist may begin to engage in socially deviant or destructive behavior as a result of their belief that they don’t belong.

In the context of substance abuse, nonconformity can be a dangerous personality trait. Individuals who see themselves as misfits are more likely to rebel against social norms and engage in risky behavior, such as using drugs or alcohol. Not only does this put themselves in danger, but it also has the potential to harm others around them.

Additionally, nonconformists tend to associate themselves with people who live similar lifestyles. Spending time with like-minded individuals can significantly influence their behavior and further fuel their addictions. This is commonly seen among teenagers and young adults, whose decisions are heavily impacted by the friends they hang out with and their need for social acceptance.

Low Self-Esteem

The way a person perceives themselves helps to shape their overall view of the world. A positive self-image can go a long way in terms of mental well-being. Studies have even suggested that healthy self-esteem boosts confidence, increases resilience, promotes stronger relationships and reduces the risk of certain mental health conditions.

On the other end of the spectrum is poor self-esteem, which can have many detrimental effects on overall health and wellness. People who struggle with low self-worth typically battle negative thoughts about themselves and their lives. They may believe that they aren’t worthy of success or happiness, and this belief can impact various areas of their personal and professional lives.

Drugs and alcohol may offer a temporary reprieve from painful thoughts and emotions. In the long run, though, this is a harmful coping mechanism that doesn’t address the underlying problems of low self-esteem. In many cases, substance use exacerbates insecurity and other negative feelings.

Low Resilience

Challenges are a part of life. For resilient people, these challenges are seen as a valuable opportunity for growth and self-improvement. However, non-resilient individuals often struggle to overcome obstacles in life. Whether it’s a minor disappointment or something more serious, like the loss of a job, these issues tend to take up more space in someone’s life when they lack resilience.

People who have trouble bouncing back from difficulty also report higher levels of stress. Prolonged stress can damage mental and physical health in a myriad of ways. While some people have healthy ways of managing stress, others turn to toxic outlets as a means of seeking relief.

In some cases, these harmful coping mechanisms come in the form of substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can act as a short-term source of stress relief, but they often make the problem worse over time. This can pave the way for an alcohol or drug addiction.

Lack of Accountability

Many people who struggle with substance abuse disorder live in denial, which prevents them from getting the help they need. They often attempt to downplay their addiction or insist that they don’t need professional treatment to achieve sobriety. In other cases, a person with an alcohol or drug addiction may deliberately distance themselves from friends or family and reject their attempts to provide support.

At the heart of this behavior is a lack of accountability. Instead of acknowledging that they have a serious condition that requires professional intervention, a large portion of substance users prefer to shift the blame to someone else. They might attribute their drug or alcohol use to childhood trauma, family history, an underlying mental health condition, their living conditions or a variety of other factors.

While these circumstances may be outside of the victim’s control, there are always steps that they can take to make things better. Even if the step is as small as discussing the possibility of treatment with a loved one, it displays a sense of maturity and responsibility that can take them far.


Sensitive people react more intensely to situations and events compared to the average person. These individuals are also known to experience a wide range of emotions, which can be painful or overwhelming in some situations. Sensitive people react particularly poorly to criticism or punishment and may take longer than usual to recover from rejection.

To alleviate the burden of sensitivity, some people find refuge in drugs or alcohol. Substances tend to numb any unpleasant feelings that a person may be experiencing and replace them with an emotional high. The more a person is rewarded with this sensation, the more likely they’ll be to continue using substances.

After repeated substance use, a person may begin to rely on the drug to feel “normal” or to alleviate their usual stressors. This is a slippery slope that may cause a full-blown addiction to take root.

Low Levels of Constraint

People who live with addiction tend to struggle with constraint. This refers to the ability to stop engaging in a certain type of behavior once you start it. A non-addicted person can limit the number of drinks they have, while someone with a substance use problem will have a hard time saying no once they’ve begun drinking.

The same applies to any kind of substance that someone may opt to use. Those who have an addictive disorder struggle to establish boundaries, which opens the door for substance abuse to wreak havoc in various areas of their lives.

Low levels of constraint can also help explain why so many individuals with substance use disorder relapse during the recovery process. After teaching themselves to continue turning to a substance, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to change their thinking process and resist the urge to keep abusing drugs or alcohol.


It’s no secret that life is tough for all of us. Everyone has their fair share of challenges and struggles, no matter who they are or where they come from. What makes people unique is the way they choose to cope with these difficulties. Some may throw themselves into work, while others seek the counsel of friends or family. Others, still, may retreat into themselves and choose to work through their issues on their own.

Then there are the individuals who have an escapist mentality. Escapists prefer to numb their pain by consuming different forms of entertainment or otherwise distracting themselves from their struggles. Drugs and alcohol are used by many people as an escape mechanism, as they dissolve unpleasant emotions and rid the mind of any stressful thoughts.

Using substances as a form of escape can quickly pave the way for addiction. When a person relies solely on alcohol or drugs to dull their pain, they’re left defenseless once they attempt to stop abusing these substances. It’s important to adopt healthy and productive coping strategies in the place of drug use to reduce the risk of addiction.


Even if someone isn’t manipulative to begin with, they will likely start to adopt this trait once they are in the throes of addiction. Manipulative individuals lie and deceive the people around them as a means of getting what they want. In the case of substance abuse, this means going at great lengths to feed their addiction.

There are numerous ways a person may choose to manipulate others for their own benefit. They might make promises that they don’t intend on keeping, fabricate elaborate stories to cover up their suspicious behavior or portray themselves as weak or vulnerable to extract empathy from their loved ones. Regardless of how they play the manipulation game, people living with addiction have the same goal of bending others to their wishes.

This continued behavior can sever relationships in the long run. At first, a loved one may not notice that they’re being taken advantage of, but manipulative behavior often becomes more evident as a person’s addiction accelerates. In this way, addiction does not only harm the person suffering, but it takes a severe toll on almost everyone else in their life as well.

Help Is Available: Reach Out to Us Today

While each of these personality traits helps shed light on the nature of addiction, they don’t tell the whole story. Addiction touches people’s lives in various ways, and the reasons why addiction develops is different for each person. The best way to honor and treat addiction is to respect everyone’s unique path and to support them in a way that makes sense for them as an individual.

At Mayflower Detox, we do just that. We see each patient as a whole being, not just another name on a list. By taking each person’s specific needs and goals into account, we’re able to form a personalized treatment plan that nurtures their recovery. Reach out to us today to learn more about the treatment programs we offer or to take the first step toward sobriety.

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