The term “addictive personality,” however, belongs in the ranks of thoroughly misused phrases, alongside “gaslighting,” “OCD,” and “trauma.” But unlike other abused terms, the definition of an addictive personality isn’t based in clinical psychology at all.
As this 2015 essay by substance abuse scholar Maryann Amodeo explains, there is no generalizable research to support the idea of an “addictive personality.” Despite how frequently the term pops up around treatment programs and support groups today, there is not enough evidence or scientific backing to suggest that one personality type has a greater tendency to develop an addiction.
Using an inaccurate term like addictive personality only leads to pathologizing of true addiction, increased stigma, and a sense of inevitability.
In her essay on why the term should be retired from the treatment field, Amodeo claims that the addictive personality description hurts someone’s ability to fight back against addiction, since it creates a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that they can’t change the way they are.
The term also enables the idea that everyone who develops an addiction is the same, which leads to marginalizing struggling addicts.
There’s no single personality type that can accurately predict how someone might fall into and fight back against addiction.