Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as an addictive personality. Addiction risk is affected by many factors, including genes, childhood environment, trauma, and mental health issues. However, there are certain personality traits that appear to increase your risk of addiction. The five-factor model is the framework most commonly used by psychologists to understand personality. Those factors include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, which you can remember with the acronym OCEAN.
Many studies have found that two of these traits–neuroticism and conscientiousness–are especially relevant to addiction risk. Neuroticism is the tendency to feel negative emotions like anxiety, depression, irritability, self-consciousness, and self-doubt. People who score high in neuroticism have a greater risk for both mental illness and substance use. Neuroticism is best addressed in therapy, however, regular exercise and adequate sleep can help moderate it.
Conscientiousness, on the other hand, is protective against substance use issues, even for people who score high on neuroticism. Conscientiousness is essentially the ability to do what’s best for you in the long term. People high in conscientiousness tend to be goal-oriented, organized, self-motivated, and responsible. They see substance use as unappealing because it interferes with their goals and responsibilities. Since conscientiousness is a personality trait, it won’t change a lot but you can improve it a bit and that will help you stay sober. Here’s how to do it.