Gateway Foundation explains that substance abuse can change the important parts of the brain that we rely on to function, regulate emotions, exercise impulse control, feel pleasure, and potentially inhibit the ability to sleep or breathe, so it’s no surprise that addiction can significantly impact a person’s personality.
And, while it’s important to note that everyone’s experience with addiction is unique and may vary, addiction can affect various aspects of a person’s personality and behaviour, not to mention damage their health, relationships, careers, and finances.
In this article, we discuss the common ex drug addict personality symptoms and provide insight into the recovery process and the challenges faced by individuals who are in recovery.
Understanding Drug Addiction and Recovery
Drug addiction damages your brain as these substances flood it with dopamine. Initially, you’ll experience feelings of pleasure, but once the euphoria leaves, you’re only left with cravings to consume more and more of the substance. This quickly turns into a vicious circle where the need to consume drugs completely takes over your life and changes your entire behaviour.
Mountainside explains that because your brain is so consumed by thoughts of drugs, your personality drastically changes. You often transform into a completely different person without even realising it, but the people around you will certainly notice the negative impact that drugs have on you.
Recovery from drug addiction can play a significant role in helping you address and positively transform the changes in personality that have occurred due to addiction. Often beginning with detoxification, this is the process of cleansing your body of the substances. This will help to stabilise you physically and help you think more clearly in preparation for your subsequent therapies.
As a drug addict in recovery, you may also be treated using cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps you to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with addiction. It teaches coping skills and strategies to manage stress and triggers. Group therapy may also be useful as these sessions provide a supportive environment where you can share experiences, learn from others, and develop healthy communication and relationship skills.
5 Common Ex Drug Addict Personality Symptoms
Drug addiction can profoundly alter your personality and behaviour. While it’s common to experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting drugs, many of these negative effects can persist many years after you’ve stopped consuming the substance.
Manipulation and Deception
When it comes to common ex drug addict personality traits, manipulation, along with deception, are often seen when in active addiction.
Addiction can compel individuals to engage in dishonesty, manipulation, and deceit to protect their addiction and maintain access to the substance. This can put a significant strain on relationships as those suffering from addiction can go to any length to satisfy their cravings. Abusing drugs will also reduce a person’s capacity to make rational decisions or judge situations correctly, so they could use manipulation or deception to gain back control.
Impulsivity and Risk-Taking Behaviours
Addiction often leads to impulsive decision-making and risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence, engaging in unsafe sexual practices, or committing crimes to obtain the substance. As drugs become the top priority, ethical concerns are usually pushed aside, which can cloud a person’s judgement.
Mood Swings and Emotional Instability
Substance abuse can lead to significant mood swings and emotional instability. The substance can temporarily alleviate negative emotions, giving you a feeling of calm, but when the effects wear off, you’ll likely be faced with heightened irritability, anxiety, depression, or anger. Drug addiction will only worsen any existing mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, which can intensify these mood swings.
Isolation and Alienation
Addiction can cause individuals to withdraw from their social circles, including family and friends, leading to isolation and alienation. The shame, guilt, and fear associated with addiction can further exacerbate this isolation.
Many of those who are living with addiction want to hide their habit and the effects that the substance is having on them. In other words, they are hiding the fact that they may have lost control. As a friend or family member of someone suffering from dependency, it’s only natural to want to confront them about their substance abuse. However, these confrontations aren’t always well-received and may result in further isolation or denial, leaving them feeling more alone than before.
Changes in Values and Priorities
Over time, individuals may abandon their previously held values, principles, and long-term goals in favour of satisfying their addiction. This shift in values is driven by the overpowering need to obtain and use the substance. Additionally, hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed are likely to be less appealing to them or forgotten entirely, as the craving to satisfy these substances takes control.
Positive Ex Drug Addict Personality Traits
The journey through addiction and into recovery is an arduous one, often marked by various highs and lows. Yet, it’s also a journey that can encourage resilience and growth.
Resilience – Recovery is a difficult process that often involves setbacks, relapses, and challenges that must be surmounted. Those who manage to do so often display remarkable resilience, enabling them to face other life challenges with determination.
- Self-Awareness – The journey to sobriety frequently necessitates deep introspection. People who successfully complete rehabilitation programmes often possess a clear sense of self-awareness, including a thorough understanding of their triggers, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Empathy – Having gone through the battle of addiction, many in recovery develop a profound sense of empathy. They can deeply understand what it’s like to struggle with internal and external battles, making them more compassionate toward others in similar situations.
- Humility – Confronting and overcoming addiction often necessitates admitting one’s flaws and seeking help, acts that can instil a sense of humility. This attribute can be a lifelong asset, encouraging a balanced perspective on life’s ups and downs.
- Gratitude – Life in recovery often comes with a sense of gratitude for a second chance at life, relationships, and opportunities that may have been compromised during the period of substance abuse. This outlook can contribute to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
- Accountability – Taking responsibility for past actions and decisions is an essential part of the recovery process. Many who have overcome addiction can apply this sense of accountability in other aspects of their lives, such as in work and with personal relationships.
- Adaptability – Learning to cope with cravings, triggers, and stress in a healthy way often involves significant adaptability. This skill is valuable in all aspects of life, making individuals more flexible and better equipped to handle challenges.
- Courage – Facing the stigma of addiction and taking the necessary steps to recover requires immense courage. Whether it’s attending the first meeting, joining a rehab, or admitting fault to loved ones, each step takes bravery.
- Optimism – Finally, many who have successfully fought addiction maintain a sense of optimism that things can get better, even when faced with the daily challenges of maintaining sobriety. This positive outlook can be a driving force for achieving other life goals.
Coping Strategies for Those in Recovery
Recovering from drug addiction and managing the associated personality symptoms typically requires dedication, support, and a holistic approach.
Seeking professional support is the first thing you should do. Consider individual counselling such as cognitive behavioural therapy, or group therapy with a qualified therapist who specialises in addiction and mental health. It can also be useful to join support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Sharing experiences with peers who have gone through similar struggles can provide encouragement, accountability, and valuable coping strategies.
Turnbridge suggests practising mindfulness to stay present and manage stress. Meditation can help in calming the mind and gaining control over thoughts and emotions. Journaling can provide clarity, relieve stress, and serve as a self-reflection tool, so try writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s crucial to prioritise self-care by ensuring you get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and engage in activities that nurture your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Supporting an Ex-Drug Addict
Supporting an ex-drug addict through their recovery journey can be challenging, but your support and understanding can make a significant difference in their success. Learn about addiction, its effects on the brain, and the recovery process to gain a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing. The more informed you are, the better you will be able to support them.
Understand that recovery is a long and often challenging process. Be patient and avoid placing unrealistic expectations on your loved one. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small. Accompany your loved one to support group meetings to show your support and gain insight into their recovery process.