Whether a person is introverted or extroverted can completely change the way a person lives their life, and drug addiction could be a distinguishing factor.
There are studies that suggest introverted people are more likely to be addicted to alcohol and class A drugs than people with other personality types, but is this actually true?
In this post, we’re going to briefly talk about what an introvert actually is. We’ll then discuss the above theory in detail and work out whether introverts are more likely to become addicted to drugs.
What is an Introvert?
The word introvert was popularised in the early part of the last century by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Introverts enjoy solitude and are more concerned with their inner life than the outside world.
A more specific definition would be someone who gains energy from being alond. Introverts have received a lot of bad press over the years, viewed generally as loners who are worthy of your suspicion.
There’s also a tendency to view introverts as people missing out on life, but this is not usually the case. Introverts generally prefer solitude and just have a different view on life compared to extroverts.
Unfortunately, extroversion is considered the norm in our culture, and in most cases is touted as the superior personality type. This is unfair to introverts who have lots of amazing qualities such as:
- Having introspective imaginations
- Processing information more deeply
- Being very self-aware
- Being more spiritual than extroverts
- Being good writers
- Having few friendships but being very close to those friends
Introversion and extroversion appear on a spectrum, which means no one person is completely one or the other. Every introvert is different, but are introverts more likely to be addicted to drugs than extroverts?
Are Introverts More Prone to Drug Addiction than Extroverts?
Now that we know more about the difference between introversion and extroversion, it’s time to look into their propensity for substance abuse.
Can introversion cause addiction?
Most of the articles you’ll read on introversion and drug addiction refer to a 2014 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
This study had a team of researchers identify links between personality traits, brain conditions, and substance abuse disorders. They specifically examined the differences between being extroverted and introverted and their likelihood to cause drug addiction.
The researchers found that extroverted people were more likely to have positive thoughts, and introverts more negative thoughts and emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Their conclusion was that this would make drug addiction more likely in introverts.
This conclusion makes sense if you take a moment to think about introverted teenagers. There is lots of pressure on young people to go out, have fun, and let loose. With introverted teens the alcohol makes it a lot easier to be confident and outgoing.
However, the day after drinking and letting loose, an introvert might feel ashamed of their actions and revert more into their introverted ways. The alcohol, or drug, then becomes a crutch every time that person wants to let loose, and an addiction forms.
Of course, not all introverts are addicted to drugs and alcohol. And we’ve all known extroverts who have struggled with alcohol or drug abuse. This is because there are other risk factors that contribute to addiction, such as:
- Having a mental illness
- A family history of drug abuse
- Drug use as a young teen
- Loneliness or ongoing stress
While nothing says that an introvert will definitely become an addict and an extrovert won’t, it’s helpful to know the risk factors for addiction in introverts.
Being alone with addiction makes it worse
The primary risk factor for drug addiction in introverts is their tendency to spend time alone, as it’s been observed that the majority of drug addicts start off as loners.
Once an introvert is addicted to drugs, they often feel that they are facing their addiction alone and won’t ask for help when they need it. This can often make the addiction worse as the person becomes more isolated and less likely to seek help.
Introversive behaviour can accelerate the rate at which someone becomes addicted to drugs in the following ways:
- The introvert will hide their addiction which means they can fall deeper into it without family and friends noticing the extent of the problem.
- If the people around them aren’t aware of the addiction, they’ll will find it easier to deny they have a problem.
- This then makes them less willing to admit they have a problem and ask for help.
- Even if they do admit it, they might then use their dislike of social situations to avoid going to rehab.
- Also, as introverts are deep thinkers, the drug abuse can trap them inside their own delusions and make it difficult for people on the outside to get through to them.
- Even if they don’t have delusions, the introvert can fall into a loop of negative thinking, sometimes called stinking thinking, which happens when you’re alone and not able to discuss your thoughts with other people.
Alcohol and drugs suck all the good out of an introvert’s life over time, and eventually the individual will feel more isolated than they ever did. This is why it’s important for introverts to recognise this behaviour and force themselves to seek help.
It is only when the addicted introvert understands that they are not really alone that they can begin to escape their situation.
So, Are Introverts More Likely to be Addicted to Drugs?
The main distinction that needs to be made is that not all introverts are more likely to become addicted to drugs. When mixed with other risk factors, such as mental health and drug use as a teen, the probability increases.
On top of that, once an introvert becomes addicted to drugs it becomes harder for them to seek the help they need to get clean and the addiction becomes worse. Introverts should avoid drug abuse in the first place, and if they find themselves in that situation, ask for help.