Is there a relationship between introverts and addiction?
Some people are naturally drawn to being with others. They make friends easily and always appear to be confident and relaxed with people. We refer to these people as extroverts. Other people don’t have it as easy. They have a harder time making friends and tend to feel most comfortable when they are alone. We call these people introverts.
While extroverts and introverts are quite different in how they handle social situations, we’ve always believed this to be the extent of their differences. Or is it?
Personality And Substance Abuse
A team of researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted a study that identified links between personality traits, brain conditions and substance abuse disorders.
Specifically, the differences between being extroverted vs introverted were examined. The study addressed how these two characteristics could make it more or less likely for a person to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The researchers found that people who are extroverted tend to have more positive thoughts. Introverts, on the other hand, were found to have more negative thoughts and emotions, such as anxiety and depression. This relationship between introverts and addiction could leave introverts more vulnerable to substance abuse.
Introverts and Addiction
Of course, there are many introverts who are happy and secure and don’t struggle with substance abuse. And we’ve probably all known a few extroverts who find themselves in a struggle with alcohol or drugs. But there are some good points to consider that the research is hinting toward.
For example, if a young teen is shy around her friends, she may think that drinking brings out her “fun” side. Kids have a lot of pressures on them to be fun, carefree and popular. Alcohol is an easy ticket to making a teen feel more relaxed and confident in social situations.
Once an addiction forms, a teen who is naturally introverted may end up feeling embarrassed or shameful of her actions. This would then cause her to revert to her more comfortable, introverted ways.
While nothing says that an introvert will become an addict and an extrovert won’t, it’s helpful to know what the risk factors for addiction are.
Risk Factors For Addiction
Just a few of the key risk factors for addiction include:
- A family history of substance abuse or addiction
- Drinking or drug use as a young teen
- Having a mental illness
- Loneliness or ongoing stress