10 Ways to Overcome an Addictive Personality

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

These people have a hard time controlling any enjoyable activity; just when they quit one addiction, another takes over. If you have an addictive personality, try to avoid these 10 behaviors.

1

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 to make yourself feel better when you 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.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Instead of overeating, nurture yourself through restorative activities, such as meditation, taking a relaxing bath, or getting a good night's sleep.

2

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.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Instead of using alcohol to connect with others, connect through common interests or activities that you enjoy. When everyone around you is drinking, learn how to say no to alcohol and how to host a party without your guests getting drunk.

3

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.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Try to limit your non-work screen time to two hours per day. And make sure that, at least during sleeping hours, you are unavailable.

4

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.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Even if you haven`t really felt addicted to sex, listening to your partner express their feelings may help strengthen your relationship as much as, or even more than, having sex.

5

Shopping

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.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Instead of bolstering your ego with possessions, work on building self-esteem.

6

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 yor money away or spend it frivolously is depressingly high.

Healthy ways to meet this need: 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.

7

Smoking

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? The perception that smoking is a right has been carefully planted in your mind by tobacco companies. Smoking wasn't your idea. It was an idea created by big businesses wanting to make a buck.

Healthy ways to meet this need: 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.

8

Self-Medicating With Drugs

Pain, trauma, difficulty sleeping—these are common psychological 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 at best, medications provide temporary relief. If you depend on them, you will very likely become addicted to the medication.

Healthy ways to meet this need: Get help for mental health concerns. 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.

9

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 trigger serious psychological problems?

Healthy ways to meet this need: 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. Instead, look to safer methods of stress management and relaxation.

10

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.

This is denial. Even people with long-term, ingrained 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.

A Word From Verywell

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