Personality Types That Are at Risk For Addiction

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Contributor: Roseann Rook, CADC Clinical Addictions Specialist Timberline Knolls Residental Treatment Center

While the debate about how substance abuse and addiction occurs rages on, it is well understood that there is no single factor responsible.

Many individuals who struggle with addiction likely have a variety of different factors that cumulate to increase their susceptibility to addiction behaviors. This may include both environmental and biological factors, like exposure to drugs and a family history of substance abuse. Personality may also play a role in a person’s susceptibility to substance abuse addiction.

Personality Traits That May Increase Risk For Addiction

A developing anti-drug program developed in the University of Montreal called Preventure, recently created a screening program for teenagers to help identify risk factors for substance abuse based on personality traits [1]. This program identified four key personality traits that may put children/teenagers at higher risk for developing an addiction to drugs. These included the following traits:

  • Sensitivity to Anxiety
  • Impulsivity
  • Negative Thinking
  • Sensational Thinking

Children and teenagers who were identified to have these risky traits through a personality screening were enrolled in a prevention program that helped these young people develop healthier coping skills.

These types of intervention programs that screen personality traits have been shown to effectively decrease alcohol and drug abuse among high-risk children in several countries, including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Great Britain [2].

Understanding the Basis of Personality Screening

Drug prevention and intervention based programs, like Preventure, are based on the understanding and recognition that certain temperaments and personalities may make a person more likely to engage in addictive type behaviors. For example, a teenager who is prone to anxiety and negative thinking may be more likely to use drugs as a means of coping with the stressors they are facing.

Personality screening may also be effective for identifying mental health issues that commonly co-occur with drug seeking behaviors, such as depression, panic disorders, and other mood disorders.

Learning how to manage stressors that come with these personality traits through the use of healthy coping mechanisms may, in fact, be a powerful measure in preventing the development of substance abuse and addiction.

Mountain climberWhile programs that Preventure have not yet been implemented in the United States, this type of drug education model based on personality risk identification may be helpful for decreasing addiction in the highest-risk children and teenagers.

If you suspect that your child or teenager might be at risk for substance abuse or addiction, please reach out to a qualified professional for early intervention and treatment.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

What do you think is the potential benefit of screening teenagers for addiction risk based on personality traits?

About the Author:

Headshot of Roseann RookAs a Clinical Addictions Specialist, Roseann is responsible for conducting psycho-educational and process groups as well as providing individual counseling for addiction treatment including co-occurring disorders such as Eating Disorders and Mood Disorders at Timberline Knolls. She specializes in Process Addictions with a strong focus on Relationship Addictions.

Roseann was instrumental in the development of Timberline Knolls’ Addiction Program and the implementation of addressing Process Addictions into the curriculum. As a member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she has presented locally and at National conferences.

Roseann has worked in the addictions field since 1993, starting at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service as an addiction counselor moved on to counsel MISA clients at Grand Prairie Services followed by working for the YMCA Network for Counseling and Youth Development as an Addictions Counselor and Crisis worker. She returned to Grand Prairie Services for a brief stint to develop and implement an out-patient program before joining Timberline Knolls in 2006.


[1]: Conrod, P. J., O’Leary-Barrett, M., Newton, N., Topper, L., Castellanos-Ryan, N., Mackie, C., & Girard, A. (2013). Effectiveness of a Selective, Personality-Targeted Prevention Program for Adolescent Alcohol Use and Misuse A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(3), 334-342.

[2]: “The Four Traits That Put Kids at Risk for Addiction”,

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 19, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.