For many years, addiction treatment professionals focused on addictive personalities as a way to approach “healing” for people struggling with addiction. The problem with this approach to viewing and treating substance abuse is that it can make overcoming addiction more challenging. Fortunately, new research has shed light on what “addictive personality” really means. These studies provide much-needed hope and inspiration for those who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. Consequently, these studies may also discredit some of the myths surrounding addictive personalities.
What is an Addictive Personality?
Fact or Fiction?
The concept of addictive personality has been called into question after recent research suggested that it does not exist. Research findings failed to discover universal specific traits shared by all of those who struggle with addiction. Furthermore, additional results showed that people have a lower chance of becoming addicted when they live in positive, uplifting environments. Results demonstrated that addictions are strongly linked to difficulty/inability to enjoy interpersonal relationships, jobs or other ordinary aspects of life. All of these findings support the suggestion that “addictive personality” is not a valid diagnosis.
Social Issues and Substance Abuse
One of the most striking findings is that addictive personality does “not” cause addiction. In reality, the study suggests that addiction occurs when people need to fill a void in their lives. This is in regards to how they relate to other people. Trouble forming healthy relationships with others can lead to a higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. In other words, it is not your personality that is at fault for your drug dependence. The condition often comes from issues relating to interpersonal relationships. Understanding this fact can help one overcome addiction issues. Rather than feeling discouraged about having something you cannot control, such as an addictive personality, you now can feel encouraged about having a solution to substance addiction. Learning to relate and resolve personal and social issues, can help you successfully overcome addiction while also gaining valuable life skills.
The Stigma of the “Addict” Label
Labeling people who struggle with addiction as “addicts” is hurtful and counterproductive. Furthermore, the term carries a stigma that can affect motivation and encouragement. When you are labeled an addict, it is often due to the belief in the existence of an addictive personality. This manner of viewing the condition can make it more difficult for you to maintain the motivation you need to get through the recovery process. Instead of believing that being an addict is part of who you are, you can understand that it is simply part of where you have been. You can reject this damaging and judgmental belief and move forward. Focus on changing how you relate to people and the basic aspects of your social and emotional life. This is necessary to overcome the addiction effectively.
Using the addict label has prevented many people from moving forward with their lives. Instead, they become stuck within the revolving doors of drug treatments. Addiction is NOT who you are; relapse does NOT have to be part of your recovery and you do not need to fear imminent failure to succeed. Instead, see yourself as a complex human that deserves to be heard, understood, and treated based on your unique needs.
Learn more about ADDICTION STIGMA: WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER CALL SOMEONE AN “ADDICT”
Addiction as a Temporary and Treatable Condition
Research disproving the existence of an “addictive personality” provides those suffering from addiction, hope and strength in working towards building a healthier life. Thus, you can understand and realize that addiction is not a permanent problem that you cannot overcome. Instead, it is a temporary condition that is highly treatable.
When you go through drug treatment, that focuses on “you” as an individual, rather than the symptom (addiction), it gives you a much better chance to identify and treat the real issue. Keep in mind that as you go through the emotional healing process, you will also be working in other areas of your life, such as the ability to cope with painful emotions and your relationships with others. These new tools will help boost your quality of life during and after recovery, making the possibility of a future relapse less likely.
The Importance of Social Support
One of the main issues of diagnosing someone with an addictive personality is that it becomes way too easy not to see the patient. It also places less emphasis on the core issue – the source which caused the need to self-medicate in the first place. Drug rehabs widely use this archaic form to treat substance abuse patients and it often leads to disastrous results.
Treatment failure keeps you feeling hopeless, isolated and in a continuous spiral of struggling with addiction. The treatment facility’s focus should be on the individual and the goal should be to provide the most effective plan, based on the patient’s unique needs. This is the approach taken at the Waismann Method®‘s Domus Retreat after-detox recovery center. For example meeting with a therapist on a one-on-one basis is crucial for a proper evaluation. No preset “addictive personality” ideas should be part of a drug treatment process.
When it comes to treatment for drug dependency, it is time to change the view from a chronic addictive personality disorder to a reversible, treatable, and temporary condition. Now, with the advances in neuroscience, we have a more precise medical explanation for addiction. These new findings provide people with much-needed hope and more effective treatment options.