We’ve all heard someone who commits a lot of time, energy, and money to a certain activity say that he or she has an addictive personality. While that person may have a compulsion or simply a habit, it’s not necessarily an addictive personality.
An addictive personality is a complex psychological condition that compels the person to go to extremes in certain behaviors. It may be substance abuse, shopping, gambling, or any of a number of other behaviors that have a detrimental impact on the person’s life.
If you find yourself reaching a point where your involvement in some activity is consuming your life, there is a chance you have an addictive personality. Identifying and overcoming an addictive personality is a layered process that should involve professional intervention.
But starting off, consider these points.
Identify It & Respond
Part of the problem with addictive personalities is determining just how much of a certain behavior is too much. With substance abuse, it is easier; if you are drinking so much that you cannot function, you need to get to an alcohol rehab center and get help.
But what if your addiction is to exercise? It’s good for you to get some physical activity, but it can be hard to know when it’s too much. Some reliable indicators would be exercising in spite of injuries, working out instead of meeting other commitments, and exercising as an excessive means of weight loss.
Even casual gambling and occasional alcohol consumption are not inherently bad, and they may start out innocuously even for someone with an addictive personality. But at some point, that tendency will kick in and the behavior becomes a problem.
The standard is when you go to extremes with behavior. If that’s the case, no matter how positive the behavior is in moderation, it is time to get professional help.
Direct Your Energy
Addictive behaviors often involve expending excess energy. This is especially true of people who get hooked on exercise.
In order to overcome the addiction, you need to direct that energy. That’s why many people who have overcome addiction will redirect their energies into helping other addicts. They not only gain a measure of accountability, they also get to push their bush hands to do something productive.
So whatever issue you are dealing with, you need to figure out how you’ll occupy your time and energy in a way that won’t revive the old problem or contribute to a new one.
Because addictive personality disorder can manifest itself in so many different ways, it isn’t enough just to defeat one form of addiction. An alcoholic may stay sober but take up gambling. The reformed gambler may withdraw into technology addiction. There are lots of combinations.
The point is to understand that even though you have conquered whatever particular avenue your addictive tendencies chose, those tendencies could show up in other areas. Find a way to remain accountable to someone else who can make sure you don’t substitute one addiction for another one, and you won’t be victimized by your personality again.
As with any psycho-social disorder, you shouldn’t be embarrassed by an addictive personality–as long as you are taking steps to identify it and deal with it. Once you take that initiative, you are well on your way to a normal life.
Have you dealt with an addictive personality?
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