The Underlying Causes of Addiction

While no two people are the same, there are often several personality traits associated with addiction that are commonly shared. If you or a loved one is struggling with the disease of addiction, it can be helpful to understand these underlying causes to properly deal with the situation at hand. If you believe someone you know is likely to form an addictive habit, keep an eye on these traits and address them promptly.


Almost everyone with an addiction displays erratic and impulsive behavior in one form or another. Impulsive behavior is one of the most apparent personality traits found in those struggling with addiction. Impulsivity can be noticed from a young age, and usually, it’s apparent in multiple areas of a person’s life.

Impulsive people need to feel as if they are in control, and they have difficulty doing things in moderation. They tend to see everything as “all or nothing,” and won’t do something unless they can do it all the way. There is no gray area or middle ground. This is often called “black-and-white thinking” and is probably one of the more definitive personality traits of addiction. An example of this would be a sudden and drastic decision without much thought put into it such as randomly deciding to get a tattoo on a Tuesday morning or cutting off all of one’s hair on a whim.


People who struggle with addiction usually show a general disdain for societal values and trends. They place a high value on nonconformity and prefer to separate themselves from the crowd. This often leads to reclusiveness and social alienation. This is one of the more noticeable personality traits that come along with addiction.

Nonconformity is associated with a general affinity toward deviance and places value on participating in activities that are considered taboo or illegal. Most nonconformists pride themselves on being different from others, a trait that can ultimately lead to demise. A common description of this condition is when one is “terminally unique.” While it is good to be an individual and possess unique qualities, alienating yourself from the rest of society only makes life more difficult.


Addictions are often used as coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety and some legitimate mental illness. This idea is highly counterintuitive, yet it is one of the common personality traits of addicts. People who can’t deal with stress in healthy ways often turn to obsessive behaviors as a solution. By using outside things, they can take the focus off the internal turmoil they may be experiencing.  They believe they can self-medicate to get better. And, this method of self-medicating will inevitably lead to implosion.

Using drugs and alcohol to cope with emotional stress or pain is only a temporary solution—a “Band-Aid.” To get out of this detrimental cycle, a period of abstinence is required. Viewing situations realistically while intoxicated is impossible. Additionally, people who suffer from addiction usually have to be taught coping skills. Most lack coping skills entirely and using is the only coping mechanism that they know. While it is difficult to deprogram a human being, it is not impossible. It takes a lot of diligence and dedication, and it often requires professional help.


Denial is another one of the more common personality traits associated with addiction. Most people realize when they are in a negative situation, but people suffering from addiction often do not. This attitude prevents them from seeing things as they are and allows them to continue obsessive behavior and using without realizing or coming to terms with the consequences.

Denial is very real,and its power is phenomenal. It showcases the innate power of the human brain. Drugs and alcohol create an altered reality that’s much easier to cope with. Because of this, many of those with addiction have trouble with living life on life’s terms. Living in denial separates the person from the harmful reality of the life and unhealthy activities they are engaging in, as well as protects them from any liability for their actions.


People who have trouble waiting and desire instant gratification often find themselves gravitating toward addiction. With addiction, people need pleasure and fulfillment right away and don’t have the necessary patience to wait. They live from second to second, feeling to feeling, moment to moment. Most are also reconciled to the fact that they could die anytime.

Generally, those with addictions have nothing to lose. There is no tomorrow. If they want something, they want it right then. They will go to great lengths and means to make whatever they desire theirs. The overwhelming desire for instant gratification makes the person dangerous. Anything separating them from whatever it might be that they’re after is viewed as an obstacle to be overcome by any means necessary, even if it’s a person.


People struggling with addiction are, for the most part, constantly up and down. These vast mood swings are often attributed to drug use, but instability itself is one of the personality traits to look out for in addiction. Instability can be characterized as emotional, physical or mental. Many will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to find a middle ground, but often, it merely exacerbates the instability.

It is challenging to stabilize your mood if you are consistently using substances. The only constant is that there is no stability. Most people who have the disease of addiction tend to also have an accompanying mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is known as adual-diagnosis.


Most people who have an addiction to alcohol or drugs are highly self-sufficient people—often to a fault. Self-sufficiency is a personality trait that goes overlooked. What might seem like a healthy level of self-sufficiency may just be a masquerade of self-destructive behavior. With an inflated sense of self and ego comes an inability to admit defeat or failure.

With an inflated sense of self and ego comes an inability to admit defeat or failure. People with addictions often have difficulty asking for help, even in the smallest form. Lack of trust is another inherent trait that comes with addiction. So, not only do they have difficulty asking for help, but they also don’t trust many people—if any. So, the two combined make asking for help next to impossible.

In some treatment settings, asking for help is part of the treatment plan. Asking for help can be the difference between life and death. Don’t let your addiction get in the way of your asking for help when you need it. Help is always available for those who desire it.

There are some personality traits that can indicate a tendency for addictive behavior. While these traits by themselves do not automatically mean that you or a loved one has an addiction, they do possess the propensity to be indicative of a problem.


Addiction is a serious issue and should be dealt with accordingly. If you or someone you know is struggling with ending drug or alcohol use and want to start recovery, Maryland House Detox can help. For more information on addiction and treatment options, call us at 855-928-0596.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (888) 263-0631