What exactly is addictive personality disorder?

The concept of addictive personality is something that is talked about, bandied around, used colloquially in our society. It’s not really a true personality disorder, but there are certain elements that are indicative of an addictive personality, and often they’re triggered by addictive behaviours.

Examples of addictive behaviours

So a good example is with gambling. Someone may start to gamble, they may seek to win, there’s a competitive element to that. They’re seeking to wager, take risks, and that whole adrenaline surge around wagering and risk taking, and occasionally winning, with gambling, starts to reinforce this cycle. And this reinforced cycle then develops into what would be called an addiction. There’s a constant seeking of the risk and adrenaline in gambling. And then it can manifest itself in other areas in certain people. In men, in relation to, let’s call it sexual conquests and relationships, this desire to move constantly from relationship to relationship can take on an addictive element. And in fact, it’s not just men, women as well. Rare, but both, that does happen. And also can drift into substance use, multiple substances, in and out of them at different times. So this element of risk taking, and the seeking of gratification in various forms are core dimensions of this so-called addictive personality.

For further support

Better health VIC

MayoClinic

Presented by, Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Last Reviewed: 19/08/2020

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