Personality Types That Are at Risk For Addiction

Personality types of a man looking at cliffs and adventurous

Contributed by Staff of Timberline Knolls

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 Types 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:

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.


[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”,

Thank you to Timberline Knolls for providing this article.

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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 a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, 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.

Published on February 19, 2017
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 12, 2021
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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.