What is a Drug Personality?

Published April 24, 2019 by:

Tied to addiction are certain personality traits and a variety of defense mechanisms that become apparent in the addict. Some of the defense mechanisms that are strengthened through out their addiction timeline include: denial, justification, and minimization. Denial is ignoring the problem or its existence. Justification is when the addict will make excuses for their behavior. Minimization is playing down the severity of a situation.

What is Addiction?

An addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disorder characterized by compulsively using a substance, drug-seeking behavior, and obsessive thinking and planning in regards to using the substance— which all continue despite any negative consequences.

The timeline of addiction starts off with use or misuse of the substance, continues into substance abuse, and grows into an addiction. Each phase of the addiction timeline are represented by characteristic behaviors, a more in-depth look at each stage is below:

• Use or Misuse— uses substance to alleviate emotional or physical pain. Substance use can also occur in a social setting, and develop on from there. After the user is relieved of any feelings of discomfort, they will continue to use drugs or alcohol.
• Substance Abuse— increases use of a substance to continue and maintain the desired effects. “If the person didn’t have problems at the onset of use, problems have now been created as a result of the use. Constant attempts to satisfy the body’s cravings for drugs or alcohol become the person’s new reality”
• Addiction— the user puts a great amount of time and effort into getting and using drugs. Consequences in the users health, finances, social life, and emotional health will appear. The user is fully engaged in drug-seeking behaviors and routine drug use.
(RecoveryConnection).

As drug and alcohol use becomes consistent, the substance or substances being used will alter the brain chemistry and disrupt functioning for specific neurotransmitters. These changes in the brain completely derail the brain’s natural rewards system, and will lead to a deficit in dopamine once the substance is removed from the system.

Drug Personality Overview

A “drug personality” is a set of personality traits that come out from chronic use, and exist together to create a drug personality type. A general overview of the traits that make up a drug personality include…

  • irresponsibility
  • mood swings
  • inability to finish projects
  • may have unexpressed resentment
  • dishonesty that manifests itself into lying to family, friends, employers, co-workers, etc.
  • isolated and withdrawn
  • appear to have chronic depression
  • stealing and other criminal activity is present
  • engage in risky sexual behavior
  • strong defense mechanisms, like: denial, rationalization, justification, minimization, projection, blaming
  • difficulty in keeping up with finances, interpersonal relationships, work relationships or inability to hold down a job.
  • disregard of morality in efforts to obtain drugs
  • (RecoveryConnection).

    Existing Personality Traits Impacting Addiction

    Chronic drug use can procure some personality traits, but conversely, some existing personality traits can actually make certain personalities more prone to addiction. In addition to genetic background, some personality traits are considered significant risk factors for drug use, abuse, and addiction (Terracciano). There is a Five-Factor Model of Personality, which is basically five factors that influence overall personality, you can score different values for each factor— the results of your scores in each factor speak to your personality type. The five factors that this model is built off of include:

    1. Neuroticism— “the tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety and depression”
    2. Extraversion— “the tendency to be sociable, warm, active, assertive, cheerful, and in search of stimulation”
    3. Openness to Experience— “the tendency to be imaginative, creative, unconventional, emotionally and artistically sensitive”
    4. Agreeableness— “the dimension of interpersonal relations, characterized by altruism, trust, modesty, and cooperativeness”
    5. Conscientiousness— “a tendency to be organized, strong-willed, persistent, reliable, and a follower of rules and ethical principles”

    (Terracciano).

    Each of these factors is hierarchically defined by specific facets, which can provide a more in-depth description of drug users’ personalities. (Terracciano). These five personality factors are also referred to as “the big five personality factors” or “the big five personality traits.” Studies have shown that there is a relationship between high levels of extraversion, low levels of agreeableness, low levels of conscientiousness, high levels of neuroticism, and high levels of openness to experience all have a greater tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol (Ebrahim).

    Certain drugs fit with specific personality traits, which we explore more in the section below.

    Personality Types as They Are Compatible with Drug Use

    It’s impossible to blanket one personality type as an addict or not, but there are many common personality types and traits that are more compatible with drug abuse. Below is a breakdown of drugs, with the personality traits that correspond with them.

    Marijuana

  • prevalent among intelligent students and middle-aged parents
  • tend to hold unconventional ideas and beliefs
  • willingness to try new things
  • tend to have issues with common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
  • tendency to enjoy artistic and cultural experiences
  • more open to unfamiliar cultures and customs
  • users tend to have a higher IQ than the norm
  • Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, etc.)

  • sociable, friendly
  • high scores for Extraversion and Openness to Experience
  • tendency to gravitate towards artistic and cultural experiences
  • tend to be open to unfamiliar cultural values and customs
  • prone to impulsivity
  • socially confident behavior
  • thrive in the company of others
  • enjoy meeting new people
  • tend to be less preoccupied by negative concerns
  • Psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin [mushrooms], DMT, etc.)

  • high scores for Openness to Experience
  • tend to have unconventional ideas and beliefs
  • willing to try new activities
  • enjoy artistic and cultural experiences
  • open to unfamiliar cultures and customs
  • users tend to be more intelligent than average
  • tend to be less concerned with tidiness and punctuality
  • impulsive behavior
  • usually have a positive disposition
  • Opiates (Painkillers, heroin)

  • people who perceive themselves as to be lacking something in their life
  • people who tend to want to numb their emotional and/or physical pain
  • high scores for Neuroticism and Conscientiousness
  • unresolved psychological issues
  • low self-esteem
  • likely to have experienced trauma, and use heroin to numb their feelings
  • feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to others
  • considered to be “worriers”
  • tend to over-analyze and exaggerate problems
  • likely to carefully carry out the duties assigned to them
  • exhibit more goal-oriented behavior
  • Sedatives (alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, etc.)

  • high scores for Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness
  • weary or uncertain toward the unknown
  • suspicious of beliefs or ideas that challenge their status quo
  • feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations, value the safety of predictability
  • preference to familial environments
  • practice well-known traditions and routines
  • friendly and considered to be likeable by others
  • cooperative
  • dislike conflict and confrontation
  • considered to be “worriers”
  • tend to over-analyze and exaggerate problems
  • Crack Cocaine

  • commonly associated with survivors of childhood trauma (physical, mental, or sexual abuse)
  • prevalent in victims of domestic abuse
  • users commonly cite feeling worthless
  • tend to have low self-esteem
  • more likely to engage in self-harming behavior in addition to their drug use
  • impulsive behavior
  • Drug Personality

    A drug personality can broadly be characterized by general traits of drug-seeking behavior, criminal tendencies, impulsivity, etc. Usually, chronic drug use is summed up by being an addiction to escaping reality. Drug addiction can also cause personality types that fluctuate between emotional numbness and emotional instability. A drug personality is a result of chronic drug use, in which character traits come to the forefront that serve your drug-seeking and using behaviors. At Royal Life Centers, we provide comprehensive addiction treatment. Part of our treatment is taking a look at negative traits and challenging them, to restructure guest’s beliefs and behavior. We use intensive therapies to treat addiction, providing insight for each aspect of a guest to recover their true self.

    Moving Past a Drug Personality

    Royal Life Centers provides intensive therapies, including: individual therapy sessions, group therapy, behavioral therapies, support groups, adventure therapy, activity therapy, and equine therapy. We treat all aspects of life impacted by addiction. Our goal is to give guests the skills and tools they need to re-build their lives, rooted in health, happiness, and meaning in sobriety. In our addiction treatment programs, guests are able to explore and challenge the character or personality traits that have strengthened during their addiction, so that they can sift through the impact of their addiction and reach their true self.

    References:
    “7 Types of Drugs and What Personalities They Attract, According to Science.” Learning Mind, Learning Mind, 23 Nov. 2018, www.learning-mind.com/types-of-drugs-personality/.

    Ebrahim Hokm Abadi, Mohammad & Bakhti, Mojtaba & Nazemi, Mohsen & Sedighi, Saeedeh & Mirzadeh Toroghi, Elham. (2018). The relationship between personality traits and drug type among Substance Abuse. Journal of Research and Health. 8. 531-540. 10.29252/jrh.8.6.531.

    RecoveryConnection. “Explaining the Cycle of Addiction.” Recovery Connection, Lakeview Health, 30 Oct. 2018, www.recoveryconnection.com/cycle-addiction/.

    Terracciano, Antonio et al. “Five-Factor Model personality profiles of drug users.” BMC psychiatry vol. 8 22. 11 Apr. 2008, doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-22

    Waude, Adam. “Five-Factor Model Of Personality.” Psychologist World, GNU FDL, 8 May 2017, www.psychologistworld.com/personality/five-factor-model-big-five-personality.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to our addiction specialists at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

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