Personality Traits and Substance Abuse: Learning the Connection

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Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, in 2018, 31.9 million people or 11.7% of teens and adults in the United States were illegal drug users at the time of the research.

The use of illegal drugs has negative consequences for the body and mind. A person who is suspected to be using illegal drugs might deteriorate both physically and mentally. The substance can affect their appetite, causing them to lose or gain weight rapidly. It also makes them more prone to mental health issues, including paranoia, hallucinations, aggression, and depression. ;

Quitting is not easy. Once the body gets accustomed to the substance, it builds tolerance that pushes the user to increase their intake. Once the patient decides to stop using, their body reacts negatively by manifesting in physical symptoms that are often overwhelmingly painful.

People who have been using illegal drugs should be admitted to a rehabilitation center where professional medical health experts will provide them the care they need to manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Having professional help will also prevent relapsing.

However, as they say, prevention is better than cure. Experts have warned that some people are at a greater risk of substance abuse than others.

The Personality Trait That Leads to Drug Use

Drug abuse can affect multiple generations within one family, yet scientists have failed to establish a connection between the use of illegal substances and genetics.

Experts believe that there is another missing link: personality. They said that there are personality traits that are associated with a higher likelihood of illicit drug use.

Introverts who have fewer positive feelings are more likely to use and abuse drugs than optimistic extroverts. That is because extroverts who have positive emotions get rewards from other sources, including social interactions, winning a game, and getting a promotion at work. Introverts who often have negative feelings are less likely to experience these external rewards and may, therefore, seek the feeling from other sources, particularly illegal substances.

The other personality trait linked to an increased risk of substance abuse is neuroticism. Those who have anxiety or depression. They might rely on drugs to make themselves comfortable in a public setting or escape from their negative feelings.

Those who have low levels of restraint were also warned about their risk of substance abuse. Drugs already make quitting difficult. If you are the type of person who cannot stop once they start, you should stay away from illegal substances.

Of course, none of these personality traits automatically make a person a drug user. These findings should create better prevention strategies and treatment to address the increasing trend of illegal substance abuse in the United States.

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Drug Use Changes a Person’s Personality

Having the abovementioned personalities is not the only risk factor. Drug use itself can change a person’s personality, and for the worse.

Those who have used drugs are more vulnerable to substance use disorder (SUD).

Some people have naturally lower levels of dopamine, the chemical in the brain that regulates mood. It makes them prone to drug use.

However, drug use itself decreases levels of dopamine, making people less extroverted and have negative feelings. Therefore, using drugs alone can make them at risk of drug abuse.

Other Changes Personality Changes Among People with SUD

Clearly, substance abuse can change a person’s personality. A user may develop negative behaviors as a response or to mask the fact that they are addicts.

One change that you may notice if a loved one has been using illegal drugs is irritability. It is normal to feel frustrated from time to time. However, if a person gets irrationally angry over a minor inconvenience, it might be a symptom of a much serious problem.

Some substances cause frequent mood swings. So, even if they seem happy and carefree now, if they are an addict, they may become overwhelmingly sad or furious later.

Addiction may also lead to impulsive and, often, dangerous behaviors. While in the influence, they might engage in unprotected sex, theft, or using a shared needle.

Moreover, people who have been using drugs are likely to lie even in the face of those they care about the most. It may begin as a little white lie that may bubble into a repeated behavior. This happens because they are trying to hide; they are addicts because of guilt or avoiding consequences.

Illegal drug use is a serious problem, and addicts often find it difficult to escape from it. However, there is hope. Those who have become victims of substance abuse can reach out for help and get better through appropriate treatment.

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