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How Substance Use Disorder Affects Our Personality

At The Guest House, we know that substance use often starts as a way to feel a sense of pleasure that might feel impossible to grasp otherwise. However, when your substance use becomes a compulsion, it becomes more difficult to find yourself within it. In active addiction, your every action is motivated by feeding that compulsion. In a state of all-consuming dependency, it can be difficult to see how substance use disorder (SUD) has invaded every part of you.

How Does Substance Use Change You?

According to a 2020 article on substance use and personality development from Social Psychological and Personality Science, research shows that substance use has an impact on personality traits. While everyone will experience personality changes in their lifetime, SUD changes the way you typically think, feel, and act. Some of the changes in personality seen after prolonged substance use in the aforementioned article include:

  • Decreased conscientiousness
  • Increased neuroticism
  • Less satisfaction with life
  • High extraversion
  • Less agreeable
  • More openness to experiences

The changes in personality can be more deeply understood as part of the five-factor personality model as noted by the American Psychological Association (APA):

  • Conscientiousness
    • Organized
    • Responsible
    • Hardworking
  • Neuroticism
    • Prone to neurosis
    • Chronic emotional instability
    • Prone to psychological distress
  • Extraversion
    • Broad personality trait
    • Outgoing
    • Sociable
    • Openly expressive
  • Agreeable
    • Cooperative
    • Unselfish
  • Openness to experiences
    • Aesthetic
    • Cultural
    • Intellectual

The changes in core personality factors speak to the lower life satisfaction as increased neuroticism opens the door to higher levels of co-occurring mental health disorders.

Intersection Between Substance Use and Mental Health

As noted in a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance use puts you at an increased risk for mental health conditions. Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression can occur before SUD and can even lead to substance use as a way to self-medicate anxious and depressive symptoms. However, SUD can also increase or worsen the occurrence of mental health disorders as substance use leads to changes in the brain. Your brain regulates your whole body, from how you perceive circumstances to how you behave. Therefore, when substance use impairs your brain’s function, it changes who you are.

Taking Your Life Back

You can take back control of your life from SUD when you reach out for support. As noted in a book on starting your recovery journey from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), sometime after you stop using substances, your head starts to feel clearer. You stop feeling like everything is happening from moment to moment. A sort of fog begins to lift. While there are still negative thoughts and feelings to process, there is finally a little room to breathe.

At The Guest House, we can support you with a blend of holistic and clinical interventions to reconnect with yourself in body, mind, and spirit. When you seek treatment, you are choosing to become your best self. In recovery, you are choosing healing by transforming yourself.

Substance use impairs your brain function and negatively impacts your personality and behavior. Your altered personality on substances can lead to irresponsible behavior, disorganization, selfishness, and increase emotional and psychological distress. With increased physicological distress, SUD can trigger or worsen pre-existing mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. However, with a wide range of treatment plans and holistic interventions, The Guest House can help you reconnect with yourself. We are dedicated to helping you heal in a safe space where recovery means healing the whole person. To learn more call (855) 483-7800.