What makes addicting personalities

The line between pleasure and addiction is often fine. Many addictions also lead to physical problems.

Life has many charms. A piece of chocolate can be the greatest delight, an extended shopping tour can drive away the frustration of everyday life, a glass of wine can provide relaxation and sociability, the cigarette round off an enjoyable menu, intensive work can turn into a stimulating "flow", sex can lead to extreme climaxes A visit to the casino will make your nerves vibrate. So far, consumption is legally permitted. Behind that there are the forbidden stimuli. A joint can expand consciousness, ecstasy pills can induce a pleasant ecstasy, a shot of heroin can trigger a feeling of happiness never before known.

So why should someone not always do something that is good for them, makes them feel good, makes them more productive or just happier?

The answer is simple: Because then it no longer triggers these very feelings. Because the kick, whatever triggers it, stops after a short time and the dose has to be increased more and more to revive it. And because social life almost always suffers and many addictions also lead to physical problems.

What is addiction

Loss of control and the inability to abstain are two signs of addiction. But neither is precisely defined.

The line between lust and addiction is difficult to grasp in language alone. “I'm addicted to chocolate,” flirted the sweet tooth. “Without my daily run in the woods, I'm no longer a whole person,” claims the passionate jogger. And a look at the dictionary also shows how far the arc is drawn: from longing to jealousy and craving for recognition to heroin addiction.

Even experts find it difficult to draw a clear line and define the term, which is linguistically derived from the root word “sick”, not from “searching”. “Inability to abstain” and “loss of control” are the most common words in this context. But nowhere does it say when the understandable search for pleasure satisfaction is a “loss of control” and how long someone has to deny himself this in order not to be considered “incapable of abstinence”.

In addition, addiction is only seen in public and often also in scientific perception where laws are violated. With hash smokers or heroin users, you don't have to think long. These are the addicts. Work addicts, on the other hand, are at least initially praised and seen as particularly high-performing members of society.

In truth, however, almost anything can turn into addiction: drugs as well as sex, the desire to buy as well as eating disorders or the urge to play. Experts describe an illness as excessive devotion to one thing or the other when the person concerned recognizes the negative consequences himself and experiences it painfully, but still cannot change what he is doing.

How to recognize addiction

Depending on the addictive substance or act, addiction can have different manifestations.

Addictions have diverse and sometimes different appearances. But there are similarities that apply to every addiction:
  • Inability to abstain or lose control.
  • The affected person suffers from the overall event.
  • Mental, mental, physical and / or social changes and damage become recognizable and increase in the further acute course of the addiction disease.
  • Family members often become involved in the addiction and become codependent.

Search for the addicting personality

Certain personality traits can be seen as risk factors, there is no such thing as an addict.

Scientists have been looking for the addict personality for a long time, but no one has found it yet. An American scientist once put this in a nutshell: "Alcoholics differ from non-alcoholics in that they drink too much."

Researchers have identified a number of personality traits that can at least be seen as risk factors. Fears and depressive thoughts, suppressed aggression and a low tolerance for frustration are just a few of them. Conversely, however, people can always be found who combine many of these personality traits and yet never become addicted.

The theories that addiction is hereditary or attributable to a genetic defect have also not been confirmed. Only a parental home with addiction could be proven to be a certain risk factor. In these cases, too, there are still other factors that must be added.

The traces in the psyche

Addictive behavior is a substitute act in order to get into a certain emotional state.

For psychoanalysts, any form of addiction is a substitute satisfaction for unmet early childhood needs. According to this, addicts were never really independent and could never break away from the caregivers of their earliest childhood. Just as the infant's primary pleasure in sucking, sucking and biting is shifted from the mother's breast to the plastic pacifier, this "pacifier" later takes on new forms. This can be consumer goods as well as the desire to drive fast or drugs.

When children are hungry, longing or the need for warmth and security, they expect these needs to be met immediately. Only in the course of time do they learn to endure delay in pleasure. Intense painful experiences, such as separations, frequent changes of caregivers or constant disregard, but also excessive pampering, can hinder the child on his way to independence. This ego weakness later manifests itself in a lack of self-control, in the inability to delay instinctual instincts, to sublimate, to endure tension and frustration, and in the inability to calm down without taking external aids - traits that can be demonstrated in almost all addicts.

In the attempt to satisfy the instinctual needs, they are diverted from living objects - i.e. other people - to inanimate, material or material things. But just as the pacifier was not really able to replace the real pleasure of the mother's breast in the infant, addictive behavior is also only an incomplete substitute for the actual need. The next cigarette, the next glass of wine, the next drug, the next more expensive product all promise satisfaction.

Is hashish addicting?

Continuous use of hashish can have effects similar to chronic alcohol abuse.

Hashish is considered to be the youth drug par excellence. Enjoyed as dried leaves, flowers, resin or oil, it strengthens existing moods - good as well as bad -, creates a pleasant lethargy and many a hallucinogenic phenomenon. A strong joint can make the smoker “see music” or “smell pictures”.

These effects made grass, shit or pot the favorite drugs of the flower children of the 1968 generation. And many who have long been working as bankers or journalists in the middle of the establishment still occasionally turn a “bag” or an “oven” at the weekend. Their own - hardly worrying experiences - also shape the reactions when the characteristically sweet scent comes out of the youth's room for the first time. Although the longstanding debates have not yet led to any legalization of hashish, the legislature has also become more tolerant. Possession is still a punishable offense; whoever is caught with smaller quantities will not be prosecuted.

That is also understandable. The active ingredient in hashish, or THC for short, is not particularly toxic, so the risk of a fatal overdose is low. It does not lead to any physical dependence, and fears that hashish could be a gateway drug and automatically lead to the use of harder substances have also proven to be baseless.

However, a number of studies have now shown that smoking weed is not as harmless as many thought under certain conditions. Especially if it is consumed very early, in large quantities and very frequently, it can lead to psychological dependencies and permanent loss of motivation. Continuous consumption can have effects similar to chronic alcohol abuse. The ability to think and remember is restricted, the patterns of perception are shifted. In extreme cases, cannabis can even lead to schizophrenia-like psychoses in young people who are “heavy users”.

Is it your own fault?

Addiction is not a sign of weak will, but a disease. Asking those affected to pull themselves together does not help.

“He doesn't have to drink. I can control myself too! ”Such prejudices are very often encountered with addicts. To many it seems even more incomprehensible why people have to keep shopping despite recognizable problems or cannot turn back at the casino door. Even those affected often think that these inner compulsions must be manageable and are ashamed when they fail.

But addiction is not a sign of weak will, rather the inner urge becomes so great and uncontrollable that non-addicts simply cannot empathize with it. That is the reason why addiction has now been seen and officially recognized as a disease in its own right. Demanding more self-discipline from an addict is like telling an allergy sufferer to suppress the red spots on their skin or control the tears in their eyes.

What goes on physiologically in the body of addicts has now been well researched. Recent studies have shown that addictions lead to changes in the brain and the resulting changes in behavior. Regardless of whether someone injects heroin, buys the four hundredth pair of shoes or stuffs chocolate into them, this leads to a release of messenger substances, above all the lucky charm dopamine, in the brain.

The problem with this is that the body wants more and more of it and creates new docking points that want to be soothed by more and more drugs. In addition, with heroin addiction, for example, the body throttles its own production of endorphins, opiate-like substances, which it releases reflexively during stress and pain, and in a certain way relies on the supply from outside.


Relatives want to help, but are mostly powerless in the fight against addiction and need professional help themselves.

Relatives of addicts are almost always affected. At first all they want is to help, to spare the person concerned difficulties, to protect the “good reputation” of the family and their own.

This often forces people to deny themselves and violate their own principles, for example when the woman reports her drunk husband to the employer as having the flu. Experts only consider this helpful in exceptional cases. In the long term, however, the addiction is unintentionally supported and promoted.

Experts often compare the situation of loved ones to that of a non-swimmer who sees someone sinking far out in a deep lake.

Because those affected often do not even realize that they need help or because the family members are not able to really help, they often suffer from feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, which often find an outlet in anger, anger and anger. Over time, this can lead to serious psychosomatic disorders and serious illness.

Most relatives also need professional help in order to recognize their involvement in the partner's addiction and to find a way out of this co-dependency.

Is Addiction Curable?

Although addiction cannot be cured, it can be managed well with the help of suitable measures.

Experts say: no. At least not in the real sense. Addicts never manage to find a controlled way of dealing with the addictive substance or the addictive behavior. There is only the possibility of bringing the addiction to a standstill through abstinence.

In the beginning this renunciation is difficult and sometimes can only be sustained with external effort. At the end of a therapy, however, it is possible for many to perceive abstinence as a liberation and to feel the life opportunities an abstinent life opens up for them.

It takes more than getting the addictive substance out of the blood or stopping addictive behavior. The actual therapy consists in working out which behaviors, attitudes and views have to be changed in order to enable a drug-free life. This is also the reason why patients have to renounce their individual addicts right from the start. Only in this way can deficits become noticeable and the underlying causes recognizable. In therapy, ways and means of solving everyday problems must be sought and new behaviors must be tried out to cope with an addiction-free life. In any case, people with addiction disorders should seek treatment as early as possible, since the longer the addiction lasts, the more problems the addiction brings with it.

Test: How prone to addiction are you?

This test will help determine if you are at risk.

Please consider to what extent the following questions apply to you and write down the letter that corresponds to your answer. At the end, add up how often you have chosen the answer option A, B, C or D and enter these results in the evaluation table.

1. Separations burden me disproportionately.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

2. I lose my mental balance because of every little thing.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

3. I long for someone who gives me protection and security.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

4. I suffer from anxiety.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

5. I am very preoccupied with sexual matters.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

6. I am under great internal tension.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

7. My mood is subject to strong fluctuations.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

8. I often feel down and depressed.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

9. If I have to wait, I quickly feel myself getting restless.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

10. I hardly have any interests.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

11. I feel insecure when dealing with the opposite sex.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

12. If I have extra money, I will spend it right away.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

13. If I had a choice, I would stay a child forever.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

14. I find it difficult to make friends.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

15. In a relationship, I am primarily looking for warmth and security.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

16. I find it rather difficult to respond to other people.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

17. I rarely feel when it's enough.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

18. Left on my own, I often don't know what to do with myself.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

19. I suffer from feelings of inner loneliness and abandonment.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

20. Even a small disappointment can give me a serious offense.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

21. I find it difficult to meet goals that I set myself.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

22. It is impossible for me to act out my sexual inclinations.

totally wrong A… B… C… D totally agree

23. I suffer from feelings of emptiness and futility.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

24. I often escape my unsatisfactory reality into my imagination.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

25. I tend to disregard or devalue other people.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

26. I am often bored.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

27. When I want something, I push it until I have it.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

28. By nature I am rather self-centered.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

29. My sex life is extremely unsatisfactory.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

30. When dealing with the truth, I tend to be generous.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

31. I usually feel powerless and don't really feel like doing anything.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

32. When I am excited, it is difficult for me to calm down.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

33. The fear of my own death hangs like a dark shadow over my life.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

34. In contact with other people, I am rather insecure and tense.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

35. My leisure time activities are passive (watching TV, listening to music, etc.)

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

36. I am extremely jealous.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

37. It is hardly possible for me to postpone wishes that I have for at least a while.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

38. I find it difficult to keep order.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

39. I find it difficult to cope with tension.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree

40. I tend to be unstable and volatile.

totally disagree A… B… C… D totally agree


How often have you chosen option A, B, C or D? Multiply the number by the value next to it and form the total.
Answer option A: ………. x 0 = ……… ..
Answer option B: ………. x 2 = ……… ..
Answer option C: ………. x 4 = ……… ..
Answer option D: ………. x 8 = ……… ..

Total: ………… Points

0 to 80 points: There is nothing to suggest that you are susceptible to addiction. You have a stable personality and self-confidence and have enough resources to actively cope with your life problems.

81 to 160 points: You have certain similarities with characteristics that are characteristic of those at risk of addiction. Your inner balance is not as stable as it should be. The calming, relaxing, euphoric or stimulating effect of addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol, legal or illegal drugs can of course temporarily push conflicts or unresolved life problems into the background - but only for a short time. As soon as the effects wear off, they return. So don't even try to solve your problems by escaping reality. Better face her.

160 to 320 points: Your test results suggest a relatively high susceptibility to addiction. You find it difficult to keep your inner balance. The calming, relaxing, euphoric or stimulating effect of addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol, legal or illegal drugs can of course help you temporarily to compensate for this uncertainty, but only for a short time. As soon as the effects wear off, you will feel the same as before, sometimes even worse. Nicotine, alcohol, and drugs are not problem solvers. You cannot get rid of your problems by escaping from reality. A solution is only possible if you actively face them.

Editor: Christian Skalnik (journalist)
Update: November 9th, 2015, Elisabeth Tschachler (journalist)
Medical review: Priv.-Doz. Dr. rer. Med. Dipl.-Psych. Jochen Jordan (Psychology), Dr. Ursula Pueringer (general medicine, occupational medicine, public health)

This information cannot replace a visit to the doctor, but can help you to prepare for the discussion with the doctor. A diagnosis and the individually correct treatment can only be determined in a personal conversation between doctor and patient.

Online advice on addiction

Do you suspect you are at risk of addiction? Our online team of psychologists will help you figure out the causes. You can fight your addiction with targeted online advice.
Find psychologists online now
Show full article
Psychological counseling online without waiting:
We connect you with top psychologists online
Instahelp is not suitable in acute psychological crisis or emergency situations. Please contact your doctor immediately, the medical emergency service on 141 or the ambulance on 144. To relieve the burden, you can also contact the telephone counseling at any time, which can be reached around the clock on the Austria-wide emergency number 142.