The Addictive Personality

By susanpeabody 03/16/18
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"The content of the addiction, whether it be an ingestive addiction or an activity addiction...is an attempt at an intimate relationship." John Bradshaw in Healing the Shame that Binds You

Craig Nakken, in his book ,"The Addictive Personality: Roots, Rituals, and Recovery," presents a strong case for the existence of a personality type underlying all addictions. He explains that the emergence of this personality begins as an escape from emotional pain and then takes on a life of its own as certain chosen rituals take form and become routinely acted out. This means that someone with an addictive personality can become dependent on more than one substance or experience.

Whether one believes in the addictive personality or not, it is well documented that addictions often come in clusters. Many alcoholics are also addicted to drugs. Workaholics are known for their obsessive spending. The combinations of various addictions are endless.

Many addicts in recovery have problems with other potential addictions when they are having problems with relationships. For instance, some addicts stop eating when they fall in love and become anorexic---especially if the person they are addicted to likes a slender partner---or they stop eating when a relationship ends because they are depressed. Other addicts overeat compulsively when things go wrong in their relationship to numb the pain.

I have also known addicts who start drinking or using drugs because their partner is an alcoholic or drug addict, or they may be trying to escape the pain of an unhealthy relationship. Then there are the addicts who shop compulsively to distract themselves from the pain of a deteriorating relationship or because they are angry at their partner and want to spend all of his or her money. Some addicts will become workaholics to support their partners or to numb the pain of their addictive relationship.

With this in mind, I suggest that you watch out for all the things you do to try to manage and control discomfort and pain. Addicts tend to have a strong repetition compulsion in the base of their brain and activities turn to habit and then addictions more quickly than they might realize.

Finally, not only should you become aware of potential and subsidiary addictions, but when they come up take them seriously and treat them immediately the same way you treat you primary addiction. Admit you have a problem, seek help and change your behavior---one day at a time.

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