Can you be addicted to addiction?

You may have heard of some unusual addictions, like being addicted to being in a relationship or addicted to cosmetic surgery. However, have you ever considered the possibility of someone being addicted to addiction itself? In this blog, we delve into this paradoxical concept in detail.

Can you be diagnosed with an addiction to addiction?

Formally diagnosing an addiction to addiction itself, as in being addicted to the process of addiction, is not a recognised disorder within standard diagnostic criteria like the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, individuals struggling with addiction may exhibit behaviours that resemble addiction in their pursuit of addictive activities or substances.


Example situation

Friends would watch in disbelief as Chris spiralled deeper into the abyss of addiction. But to Chris, it was a vicious cycle he couldn’t escape. It wasn’t just about the substance anymore; it was the thrill of chasing that fleeting rush and quelling any difficulties in his life.

Friends would watch in disbelief as Chris spiralled deeper into the abyss of addiction. But to Chris, it was a vicious cycle he couldn’t escape. It wasn’t just about the substance anymore; it was the thrill of chasing that fleeting rush, as well as quelling any difficulties in his life.

What sets Chris’s situation apart is the interconnected nature of his addictive behaviours. It’s not merely about the substance for Chris. Now, it’s about the pursuit of that fleeting rush, that dopamine-driven euphoria. Not to mention the fact that he’s able to forget all his troubles whilst engaging in these behaviours. Whether it’s the numbing effect of alcohol, the adrenaline rush of gambling or the temporary satisfaction of compulsive spending, Chris finds himself ensnared in a web of addiction.

So, what’s happening to Chris?

Like many people with addictions, it’s hard to see what’s causing Chris’s behaviour without knowing his background and other factors in his life. Here are a few potential factors to consider:

  1. Chris may use addictive behaviours as a means of escaping from underlying emotional pain, stress or trauma, seeking temporary relief from his troubles through the highs provided by alcohol, gambling and spending.
  2. Chris may have underlying psychological issues such as low self-esteem, depression or anxiety, which drive him to seek solace in addictive behaviours as a coping mechanism.
  3. Over time, Chris’s repeated engagement in addictive behaviours leads to habituation, where he becomes increasingly tolerant to the effects of the substance or activity, requiring more frequent or intense engagement to achieve the same level of satisfaction.
  4. Chris may be inherently drawn to risk-taking and excitement, finding the thrill of chasing highs exhilarating and addictive in itself, regardless of the specific substance or activity involved.

You may hear this kind of behaviour be referred to as Chris having an ‘addictive personality’.

What is an addictive personality?

An addictive personality is a colloquial term used to describe a set of characteristics or traits that may make an individual more prone to developing addictive behaviours or substance abuse issues. While the concept of an addictive personality is widely recognised in popular culture, it’s important to note that it’s not a formally recognised psychiatric or psychological diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Signs and symptoms of an addictive personality

In this section, we explore signs that someone may have addictive tendencies whilst comparing these signs with Chris’ story. While we’re not ‘diagnosing’ Chris, this comparison helps us understand addictive behaviours and their health risks better.

Impulsivity: Individuals with addictive personalities may have difficulty controlling their impulses or delaying gratification, leading them to engage in risky or addictive behaviours without considering the consequences.

Chris’ behaviour: Chris’ inability to control his impulses is evident in his engagement in risky behaviours like gambling and splurging on luxuries without considering the consequences.

Sensation-seeking: People with addictive personalities or tendencies may seek out intense or novel experiences to satisfy their cravings for excitement and stimulation. In fact, sensation-seeking is highly linked with chronic drug use.

Chris’ behaviour: Chris’s relentless pursuit of highs, whether through gambling or indulging in luxuries, reflects his craving for excitement and stimulation.

Difficulty managing stress: Those with addictive tendencies may struggle to cope with stressors in healthy ways, turning to substances or behaviours as a means of escape or relief.

Chris’ behaviour: Chris turns to addictive behaviours as a means of escape or relief from stress, indicating a struggle to cope with stressors in healthy ways.

Low self-esteem: Individuals who feel inadequate or insecure about themselves may turn to addictive behaviours as a way to cope with negative emotions or to boost their self-esteem temporarily.

Chris’ behaviour: His reliance on addictive behaviours to cope with negative emotions suggests underlying feelings of inadequacy or insecurity.

Poor impulse control: They may have difficulty regulating their emotions and impulses, leading to impulsive decision-making and actions that contribute to addictive behaviours.

Chris’ behaviour: Chris’s spiral into addiction and his inability to escape the cycle highlights his difficulty in regulating emotions and impulses, contributing to impulsive decision-making.

Can you treat an addictive personality?

While there isn’t a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for someone exhibiting addictive personality traits, addressing underlying issues that may contribute to addictive behaviours is crucial. Treatment options for individuals struggling with addictive behaviours typically focus on addressing the root causes of their difficulties and developing coping strategies to manage cravings and triggers. Here are some approaches commonly used in addiction treatment:

Therapy and counselling

Various forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing, can be effective in treating addiction. These therapies help you identify and change negative thought patterns, develop coping skills to manage stress and cravings and address underlying emotional issues.

Support groups

Participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide valuable peer support, encouragement and accountability for people seeking recovery from addiction. These groups offer a sense of community and understanding from others who have similar experiences.

Lifestyle changes

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and stress management techniques can help improve overall well-being and reduce the risk of relapse. Engaging in fulfilling activities and hobbies can also provide healthy outlets for stress and boredom.

Family therapy

Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial, as addiction often affects interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. Family therapy helps improve communication, address enabling behaviours and strengthen the support system for people in recovery.

Holistic approaches

Some individuals find relief from addictive behaviours through holistic practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture or art therapy. These approaches can help promote relaxation, self-awareness and emotional healing.

I’m worried that I may be showing addictive tendencies. Do I need professional help?

If you’re concerned that you might be exhibiting addictive tendencies, it’s essential to take proactive steps to address your well-being. Adopting certain lifestyle changes and learning to manage stress better can indeed be beneficial in many cases. These changes might include;

  • Incorporating regular exercise
  • Practising mindfulness or meditation
  • Improving sleep habits
  • Building healthy relationships

However, the necessity for professional help depends on the severity of the behaviours you’re experiencing. Addiction can manifest in various forms, including;

If you find that your actions are significantly impacting your daily life, relationships, work or health, seeking professional help is crucial. Organisations like UKAT can provide comprehensive, affordable drug rehab services for anyone struggling with addiction.

We offer detox for alcoholism treatment and drug treatment, residential rehabilitation, various therapies tailored to your needs and addiction counselling services.

Our multidisciplinary approach aims to address the root causes of addiction while providing the necessary tools for long-term recovery.

Reach out to us today and start the process of regaining your life.