Is there such thing as an addictive personality? Why do some people develop addictions while others don't?

When we go to school we learn many different things that help us increase our knowledge and capacities.  But we don't learn one of the most important things: how to deal with our feelings and emotions. As human beings, we all experience feelings like fear, sadness, anger, guilt, depression, guilt, low self-esteem, etc. While it is natural and normal to experience these feelings and emotions, they can be a reason of concern when they build up and are not expressed and relived in healthy and positive ways.  This is one of the reasons why people develop addictions. When we talk about addictions we are not just talking about alcohol and drugs,  but there are many other types of addictions like: addiction to food, cigarettes, alcohol, computers, shopping, gambling, sex,etc.

I find it really interesting when I get someone tells me that smoking helps them relax because, the truth is that, cigarettes do not contain any ingredients that can help people relax, just quite the opposite, smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate. Then, why do smokers have the idea that cigarettes can help one relax? The reason could be that, when people feel bad (stressed, sad, lonely, angry, etc) they look for something to get distracted in order to forget about the feelings and emotions they are experiencing and get some temporary comfort or relief. But later, the feelings and emotions come back and the smoker will have to smoke again to get the same temporary relief. Over time, it becomes a habit when the smoker programs his mind to smoke automatically every time he feels bad emotionally and by doing this, he also reinforces the belief that cigarettes help one relax and feel better.

The same goes for food. Some people tell me they eat when they feel lonely or stressed. But then again, we know that food does not give us company or help us solve our problems. People who overeat experience a surge of energy due to the fact that sugar and fat can boost insulin levels, which in turn, helps people experience pleasure and feel good when they eat. This is the reason people feel the need to overeat all the time. In reality, most negative habits are ways to get distracted and to try to forget and repress what we really feel. In some cases, a bad habit can also be a negative way to get entertained when we feel bored and over time it can get worse if nothing is done to overcome the habit.

Here is a list of primary feelings that can cause emotional problems and addictions:

  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Stress
  • Low Self-esteem (feeling worthless, not good enough)
  • Boredom

Other emotions:

  • Frustration (secondary emotion)
  • Depression (tertiary emotion)

Whatever the addiction, it is very important to get to the cause of the problem and neutralize the negative feelings and emotions causing the bad habit or the addiction. This can be accomplished in several ways: by reading self-help books, doing meditation or  learning new habits and better ways to relax. If these things fail, it is important to talk to someone and get professional help. First of all, it is important to consult your family doctor who can suggest good ways to overcome your problem. Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy and Counselling are also good options that can help treat the root  of the problem.

If you or anyone you know suffers from Alcoholism or Drug addiction, it is important  to consult a medical specialist, who can decide if a detoxification program is required and prescribe the right treatment. You can also consult an Addictions Counsellor who can give you advice on the options available.  I truly believe that all humans have the capacity to change and be better persons. Take the first step today!