Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

John smokes pot every night to relax. Jenny starts eating compulsively the moment she comes home from work. Every time Linda enters a drug store, she steals something, whether or not she needs it. Rather than spending weekends at home with his family, Bob drives to the nearby casino and spends his hard-earned salary playing blackjack.

What do these people have in common? They may have addictive personalities that make them more vulnerable to self-destructive, compulsive behaviors.

People become addicted to all sorts of things, from drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, and gambling, to video games, pornography, and even chocolate. Do they all have certain personality traits or experiences that make them more susceptible to addiction? Some experts say yes, but some say addiction is far too complicated to generalize a single set of characteristics that lead to these destructive behaviors.

Addictive Personality Traits
Human beings are a diverse group. While some people lose control around alcohol, others can drink recreationally a couple nights a week without developing any form of dependency. Different drugs fulfill different needs for different people. As such, it is impossible to create a comprehensive definition of an addictive personality that covers all the varieties of people and addictions.

However, different types of addicts do share some common traits. Although the concept is highly debated in medical and psychology circles, some experts believe addictive personality encompasses a distinct set of psychological traits that predispose particular individuals to addictions. Addictive personality factors may include:

Read about addictive personality factors and the importance of making healthy choices >>

Your Brain on Marijuana

Marijuana is among the most commonly abused illegal drugs in the United States. Like heroin and LSD, it is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the government has determined it has a high potential for abuse and serves no legitimate medical purpose.

Although marijuana’s popularity ebbs and flows with each decade that passes, 46 percent of U.S. residents aged 12 and older have admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lifetime, according to the 2005 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana use is particularly prevalent among teens, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey, with nearly half (45 percent) of high school seniors reporting use in 2005.

Of the many risks associated with marijuana use, its effects on the neurological system are some of the most worrisome, especially in young, developing brains. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). With each hit, THC passes rapidly from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells in the brain. Like most drugs, THC stimulates cells that release the feel-good chemical dopamine, which leads to a high. The drug’s effects begin immediately after the drug enters the brain and usually last one to three hours.

Continue reading to learn about short-term memory damage and the long lasting effects of marijuana on the brain