Science Says There’s No Such Thing As An ‘Addictive Personality’

We’ve all heard the term “addictive personality.” But is that even a real thing? Why are some people more likely to become addicts than others?
Science Says There's No Such Thing As An 'Addictive Personality'

People often attribute the disease known as addiction to a person having an “addictive personality.” But scientists disagree with this and call it an old adage. They say it doesn’t hold any weight in the realm of the real problem. So why is it that certain people are more susceptible to addiction than others?

The Experts Weigh In

Science Says There's No Such Thing As An 'Addictive Personality'

There is actually a complicated cornucopia of reasons why some people have a tendency toward addiction. Most of which seems to stem from a desperate need for true friends. And it might not hurt if those folks had some weed.

First of all, the term “addictive personality” is a heaping pile of bullshit, according to neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz. In her book “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” she writes that this commonly used expression is only a myth. Furthermore, there is absolutely no defining personality trait in addicts than those living clean and sober lives.

Journalist Johann Eduard Hari wrote the highly acclaimed book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs”. He concurs with Szalavitz on this subject.

Hari recently did a TED talk entitled “Everything you think about addiction is wrong”. During the talk, he discussed how addicts are not really pursuing the feel goods that come from the release of chemicals in the brain. Rather, they are trying to make up for a lack of personal relationships. He claims addiction is not a “substance disorder, but a social one,” according to a report from Business Insider.

Hari’s theory goes against everything people have taught us about addiction for the past several decades.

What About Prevention?

Science Says There's No Such Thing As An 'Addictive Personality'

If you give rats a taste of heroin, they will continue coming back for it until they overdose and die. At least according to previous research in laboratory animals. Did the rats have an addictive personality?

Around the time that this research was made public, Nancy Reagan launched her “Just Say No” campaign. She believed that prevention, encouraged by the federal government, was key. If they could prevent youngsters from accepting drugs, they might have a fighting chance at living out the American Dream.

Incidentally, the Trump Administration has taken the same position on the nation’s current drug problem.

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off,” Trump said during a recent press briefing on the opioid crisis.

But some scientists now say that boredom caused the rats’ heroin addiction. And that the rats were unhappy living the life of a laboratory test animal. Furthermore, the captivity in small cages prompted the rats to become consumed with the heroin. In fact, once the researchers gave the animals bigger cages and more interesting activities, they noticed a vastly diminished interest in the heroin. And no addiction.

Final Hit: Science Says There’s No Such Thing As An ‘Addictive Personality’

Some mental health professionals say that addiction is the result of people being overwhelmed with life’s tragedies. They believe unhappy people are gravitating to the use of drugs to find the joy that is absent from their lives.

“As with other addictions, the problematic behavior is used not to have a good time, but as an emotional coping mechanism,” addiction expert Robert Weiss told Business Insider. “[Addicts] are not trying to feel good, they’re trying to feel less. They want to escape stress, anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional discomfort, and they use their addiction to do that.”

Essentially, scientists say that there is no such thing as an addictive personality. People who have a difficult time finding pleasure in various activities are more drawn to fill in the empty spaces with drugs. These activities include both work and social engagements. So the next you hear someone say, “It’s my addictive personality that makes me do dumb shit,” fire up a joint and be a real friend. You and that dank ass bud you’re holding may be their only hope.

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