10 Ways to Overcome an Addictive Personality

While we might think of people with addictions as those who are hooked on a particular drug, many more people relate to the idea of having an addictive personality, even if they have never used what are commonly thought of as drugs, such as marijuana and heroin.

These people have a hard time controlling any enjoyable activity; just when they quit one addiction, another takes over.

Here are ten things to stop doing if you have an addictive personality, along with suggestions for healthy ways to meet the needs that underlie these behaviors.


Comfort Eating

Model poses as a woman eating ice cream in bed to comfort herself
Rubberball / Mark Andersen / Getty Images

Comfort eating is a common way that we make ourselves feel better when we are disappointed, stressed or overwhelmed. While comfort eating is not harmful in moderation, if it becomes a habit, it can lead to obesity, food addiction, and binge eating. Instead of overeating, learn to nurture yourself through restorative activities, such as meditation, taking a relaxing bath or getting a good night's sleep.


Using Alcohol to Socialize

Socializing is one of the top reasons heavy drinkers give to explain their overindulgence in alcohol. A beer or a glass of wine can seem like a quick and easy way to lower inhibitions and have a laugh with friends. But all too easily, alcohol can become the only way to get along with people, leaving you feeling bored or anxious in situations where everyone is sober.

Instead of using alcohol to connect with others, connect through common interests or activities that you enjoy.

And when everyone around you is drinking, learn how to say no to alcohol and how to hold a party without your guests getting drunk.


Staying Hyperconnected

Checking your email or Facebook account every hour or more, never letting your cell phone out of reach, surfing the Internet every time you have a spare moment? While these activities might seem normal these days, they can lead to problems with Internet addiction. Using the Internet for sex, gambling or shopping can lead to more complex addictions. So, take a break from the information superhighway.

Try to limit your non-work screen time to two hours. And make sure that, at least during bedtime, you are unavailable.


Using Sex to Replace Intimacy

It might seem contradictory to suggest that sex could replace intimacy. After all, isn't sex the most intimate act between two people? But people who are addicted to sex tell a different story: Constantly seeking sexual arousal and gratification can actually distance you from your partner, as you lose yourself in the sensations of the sexual experience, rather than being aware of the feelings of the other person. Tips to restore intimacy after sex addiction may be helpful.

Even if you haven`t really felt addicted to sex, listening to the other person express his or her feelings may help strengthen your relationship as much as, or even more than, having sex with them.


Shopping for Self Esteem

Overshopping can be caused by a lot of things. But one of the main reasons shopaholics give for running up debts is the boost they get when they think the new clothes, the new shoes, and the new gadgets will change who they are and make them a better person. But as soon as it is yours, the object feels worthless and may even be stashed in the back of the cupboard, rather than used and enjoyed. So, instead of bolstering your ego with possessions, consider tips for building self-esteem.


Seeking Excitement Through Gambling

Oh, the thrill of the big win! Yet how often does it really happen? You are more likely to be hit by a car on the way to the casino than to leave with your money problems solved. And even if you do win, the likelihood that you will gamble it away or spend it is depressingly high.

Instead of indulging in the fantasy of so many gamblers, seek excitement in something real—a goal, an accomplishment, an activity—not the dream that winning big will solve all your problems.


Thinking of Smoking as a Right

Tried to quit smoking but always failed? Feel like smoking is something no one should be able to take away from you, a right, an expression of individual freedom?

It may surprise you to know that the perception that smoking is a right has been carefully planted in your mind by the tobacco companies, who have used subliminal advertising for decades.

Smoking wasn't your idea. It was an idea created by big businesses wanting to make a fast buck out of gullible people. And with all of the health education around, you should know by now that smoke-free air, not the freedom to pollute the air, is the real right that we should all be entitled to. While smoking is the most difficult addiction to quit, there is plenty of help and support available. Check out our quit-smoking site for more information.


Using Drugs to Self Medicate

Pain, trauma, difficulty sleeping—these are common problems that people try to treat with drugs. It doesn't help that every one of these problems has a prescription medication or 10 that claim to cure the problem. But they don't. At best, medications provide temporary relief. If you depend on them, lo and behold, you will very likely become addicted to the medication.

Get the psychological help you need, and accept that while you may never overcome these difficulties entirely, your quality of life will be much improved by letting go of the idea that it can be cured with a pill.


Using Marijuana to Relax

Tense? Anxious? You may have found that a joint can help you relax at the end of a stressful day. But did you know that weed has a rebound effect that increases anxiety after it wears off? Or that it can seriously interfere with your motivation in life. Or that it can trigger serious psychological problems. The younger you are, the riskier it is to smoke pot. But even for older folks, the idea that pot will help you relax is, overall, incorrect.


Believing Quitting Is Too Hard

If you have an addictive personality, you may feel that quitting everything addictive is just too difficult. You may have bounced from drink to drugs, from drugs to sex, from sex to overeating, from overeating to overexercise. Some people just feel life in moderation is too empty, too boring, too normal. They need excess.

Well, if you believe that, then you are your own worst enemy. Even the most hardened people with long term addictions can quit. Many of them discover this later in life, after losing friends, family, jobs and everything but their addictions. Once they find that recovery is possible, life opens up again and they grieve the lost years.

The Time is Now

Don't wait to get a handle on your addictive behaviors. It's a myth that you have to hit rock bottom before you can put your addiction behind you. You may have a personality that craves living large, but it doesn't have to be unhealthy. Talk to your doctor about getting the help you need, and start living life the way you really want to.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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  1. Amodeo M. The Addictive Personality. Subst Use Misuse. 2015;50(8-9):1031-6. doi:10.3109/10826084.2015.1007646