Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Addictive Personality?

I was cruising back to RD Towers the other night and listening to a phone in type radio show that I often choose.

One of the topics was alcoholism and several people were ringing in to talk about their experiences with it and of it. I found myself feeling sad, happy, grumpy, dopey and sneezy. Then I realised that I wasn't actually Snow White in a porn setting and was just sad and happy.

The stories were like that, yet I skilfully retained my outward composure and calmness whilst driving. I didn't want the public outside my window to witness the spectacle of a crying or laughing me.

Many of the callers mentioned the fact that they thought they had an "addictive" personality and that that was why they had become alcoholics. I found this to be highly interesting on several levels.

The first one is that I've always wondered if there is actually such a thing as an "addictive personality". Is it just another way of labelling someone who has a low amount of willpower, a person who's easily led perhaps?

I smoked from the time I was fifteen years old to a few years ago. I "gave up" now and then, but always restarted. Until last time. I stopped by using the Allen Carr method and I now know that, even if I do start again, I'll stop again. It sounds a bit mad but my mindset has totally shifted. I don't smoke. Full stop, but the full stop was before.

I'm not one of these people who struggles to get through each hour, day, week and month without a smoke. I just don't do it and there's no big battle of willpower that goes on, nor was there from the moment I stopped.

The thing is, when I did smoke, I was one of those confirmed smokers. I could never have been one of those people that many smokers envy, the dreaded social smoker, the type who can go out and have a few drinks, smoke a few cigarettes then go home and not smoke until the next occasion.

I was a dedicated thirty a day smoker, a wake up and have a fag (in english), a have one as the last thing at night type of fellow. People used to say that I was a bloke who looked as if I enjoyed each cigarette, by and large I did. Then I started to hate it, then I stopped.

My point in saying this is that I thought I had an addictive personality yet I stopped smoking without going through the whole battle of willpower that so many do. One of the principles of the Allen Carr stop smoking method is that willpower isn't involved. As soon as it was removed from my situation, as soon as I thought I didn't have to face this ongoing turmoil I was okay.

Also I've noticed that many people, and I reluctantly include myself in this group, choose to label themselves as addictive personalities. It's become a sort of badge of honour that we talk of as if it's bad, but the reality is we love it and subtly boast about it.

"Ooh I shouldn't. I've got a bit of an addictive personality you know"

It's become like saying you're a bit edgy, a bit of a loose cannon, not to be confused with a loose canon, one of those priests who puts it about a bit. To have an addictive personality equates to glamour, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, people like Slash and Keith Moon. It never conjures up images of sad alcoholics living a lonely life and dying.

It's second only to people saying that they're a bit OCD about something. That's all the rage these days isn't it? The average bloke who likes Chinese food will describe himself as "a bit OCD about Chinese food" instead of just saying he likes the stuff. And also, while I'm on a roll here, it's actually more of a trait in women than with men isn't it?

Lastly this addictive personality thing interests me as, of course, I think I've got one, yet I remain unsure if they really exist. One of the things the chap on the radio said last night is that most people, when giving up one addiction, will switch to something else. In effect what he said was that addictive personalities are a fact and, for that type of person, they'll always be addicted to something, be it gambling, smoking, drinking or cheese.

I wonder.

I'm currently going through a serious asparagus phase. In fact I think I'm a bit OCD about it.

What sayeth thou?


Anonymous said...

I think there are addictive personalities. And I am not one. I have just finished reading the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (as you know, but also five years after everyone has just read it) and he talks about the fact there are three types of smokers. The ones who try it once and hate it and never go back , the Chippers (like me) who could smoke about 3-4-5 every day or other day, but never more than that, and people like you , who were addicted.

The interesting thing Gladwell writes is that is the smoking of more than 5 cigs a day that is addictive, so that to stop the addiction in the general population just make your 30 a day smoker take in less nicotine in 30 cigs than he would normally in 5.


AlterEgo said...

Addictive personality, hmmm? Shouldn't that encompass all addictions? E.g. If you have an addictive personality shouldn't you be addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, rock and roll ;) and not just drugs or alcohol or sex or rock or roll? :P

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - how nice it is to receive a comment from you! I'm unsure about the smoking thing, as the theory I subscribe to is that nicotine is highly addictive, even when a person smokes a few a day. But perhaps some are able to control their cravings better than others. The Allen Carr clinic told me that most people increase their intake, even if it takes years that the 5 a day smoker will invariably become a 30 a dayer at some point.

I didn't know you played the viola!

AlterEgo - Well I assume that a person with an extreme addictive personality would have a tendency to get addicted to just about anything. But also the other variable in the equation is how addictive the substance/behaviour actually is.

i.e nicotine is far more addictive than baked beans, though I've never smoked baked beans, so a person who tries both is far more likely to get addicted to nicotine.

Thanks for the comment, I must admit I find this an intriguing subject.

Lady divine said...

Smoking, I'm not sure if I would say it's addictive.. I think it's how we choose to look at it..:)

It's all in the mindset... we like the relief and kick we get from the fag... but if we make up our mind, we can very well be without it..:)

I used to have a few each day just to feel better..but then it was beginning to affect my asthma and i just stopped... once in a blue moon i would have one and that's it..:)

and discussing your topic is huge for a blog post...:) it's highly debatable..:)

Anonymous said...

Err.. RD,

PLEASE for GOD SAKE, can we have SHORT posts limited to 100 - 150 words darling?

You are not being fair by your readers. You are exploiting them taking their time when you can bloody well make your point quickly whilst not writing novels..

Think about it.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - Exactly which part of "no" did you fail to understand. Did you think I was being sarcastic?

Anonymous said...

Okay your blog, but then readers aren't yours. You said NO, but yes, a good writer should be capable of driving the point in 100 words.

Pretend you were the reader of this blog, put yourself in our shoes then you would realize what i am saying.

See man its very unfair of you to exploit people this way knowing atleast some would read till the end. Fact is most would drop out half way through, that means your purpose lost.

Think about it. Anons are not always bad !
Listen to them

Anonymous said...

Hi, it is a rather funny topic but the thing is, I often find my self having intense craving for thing that i've never had. The truth is I'm a smoker as well, however I always feel like I want something more, like its never enough and I wonder why. I try to keep myself as clean as possible, which is why I haven experimented with other substances for fear that I cant control myself. I dont understand where the intense craving come from, which is why this article or blog post interested me. I would like an opinion.

Tricia said...

I think I have an addictive personality. I too gave up smoking with Allen Carr book, then 8 years later, after quite a few drinks, tried just one cig and was back addicted for 1.5 years before kicking the habit again 12 years ago.
I also, up until 1.5 years ago, was addicted to alcohol. I wasn't an alcoholic, but didn't know when to stop, so cut it out completely, no longer a problem for me.
Last year I stopped gambling, because I was spending a fortune on it, and couldn't just cut down.
Last year it was soft serve cones, had to have two or three every day. after a couple of months gave up on those. At the moment, it is penny sweets, every day.
I am an all or nothing person. If I get a liking for something, I can't leave it alone. I have to have as much of it, until I give it up completely.