Personality and Addiction: Is There a Connection?
Drug addiction affects millions of Americans each year. With such a staggering number of individuals experiencing addiction, one would think there was a correlation between personality type and the likelihood to develop addictive behaviors. The studies connecting personality and addiction can be conflicting. However, there are indisputably some common factors among people who are more prone to addiction.
Type A Behavior Pattern vs. Type B Behavior Pattern
Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman developed Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP) and Type B Behavior Pattern (TBBP) in the 1950s. These were devices used to predict an individual’s likelihood to develop heart disease. 1 Now widely used in psychological applications for how an individual responds to stress 4, these behavior types can grant us insight into possible connections between personality and addiction.
What is Type A Behavior Pattern?
Type A Behavior Patterns are associated with overachievement, the need to compete and excel. People who exhibit Type A Behavior tend to be successful professionally due to their dedication and drive. Type A individuals are also more prone to aggression and stress. 2
What is Type B Behavior Pattern?
Those identified as Type B individuals are often seen as more laid back. They are found to be adaptable to change and have lower stress than their Type A counterparts. Type B personalities seem to be everything that Type A types are not. Individuals considered Type B are more likely to adopt a carefree, lighthearted outlook yet are prone to procrastination. 3
What is the correlation between drug addiction and Type A and B Behavioral Patterns?
Some studies have shown that Type B people tend to be more impulsive, leading to drug abuse. However, newer studies indicate that due to the immense amount of stress and pressure Type A individuals feel, they are possibly more susceptible to addiction. 5
It is important to note that you can have overlapping personality traits. Identifying as a Type A or Type B personality type doesn’t automatically put you at risk for addiction.
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Introverts vs. Extroverts
Popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the terms Introvert and Extrovert describe where individuals focus their attention and gain their energy. While most people display traits from both extrovert and introvert personality types, it is common to identify with one over the other more strongly.
What is an Extrovert?
An extrovert is someone who gets their energy from social interactions and being around others. Extroverts are commonly described as more ‘outgoing’ and ‘social butterflies.’ Extraverts feel at home out in the world. They do not typically have an issue socializing, striking up conversations, or making new friends. 6
What is an Introvert?
Introverts gain their energy by spending time alone, immersing themselves in ideas and thoughts. Often tired or overwhelmed by large crowds or parties, introverted people tend to enjoy spending time by themselves or with a small group of close friends.
How do these personality traits indicate who is susceptible to developing a drug addiction?
While not a universal truth, studies have shown that those experiencing substance abuse issues tend to be on the more introverted end of the spectrum. While extraverts have reward systems that are more receptive to external factors, introverts have a higher likelihood of experiencing depression, leading to substance abuse. 7
Other Factors in Developing an Addiction
Beyond how a person deals with stress and their internal reward system, there are numerous other factors to consider when determining whether a person is susceptible to developing an addiction.
Other factors in play are:
- Genetics: If your parents or someone closely related to you struggles with addiction, you are more likely to be susceptible to these same struggles. 8
- Environmental factors: Socioeconomic status, geographic location, and peer pressure are all examples of environmental factors we associate with developing an addiction.
- Other diagnoses: Those diagnosed with anxiety and depression are at risk for developing a drug addiction 9, as are individuals diagnosed with a chronic condition that requires prescription drug therapy.
It is important to note that you are not automatically prone to developing a substance abuse disorder because you have specific personality traits.
Start Your Journey Towards Recovery
At Ocean Hills Recovery, we tailor your recovery plan to your individual personality, history, health, and needs. We believe that holistic, individualized treatment plans are key to reaching and maintaining sobriety.
For more information about our recovery programs, contact us, and let us know how we can help you take control of your life.
Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477961/  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201408/are-you-type-b-or-d-personality  https://www.verywellmind.com/type-b-personality-4589000  https://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J022v02n02_03?journalCode=wzea20  https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm  https://drugfree.org/drug-and-alcohol-news/introverts-with-few-positive-feelings-at-higher-risk-of-drug-abuse-study/#:~:text=Introverts%20who%20tend%20to%20have,emotions%2C%20a%20new%20study%20suggests.  https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/risk-factors#prevention  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904966/
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.