This does not mean they are or are going to become an addict or an alcoholic.
But alcoholics, or those more likely to become alcoholic, will generally display more of these characteristics and more strongly.
They have what is called, the personality of an alcoholic.
Of course there are other issues at play in the development of drink dependency.
A combination of environmental, psychological and biological factors are at play in the development of alcoholism.
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Alcoholic Personality Traits
Low Self-esteem: The individual doesn't feel as if they are of value.They are somehow 'less' than other people. An inferiority complex.
Anxiety/Fear: The individual suffers from worry. This could be fears of social situations, fear of failure, fear of sex etc. A general feeling of fear is very common among alcoholics- they are not anxious about anything in particular. A sense of anxiety. Anxiety and alcohol are a dangerous mix.
Perfectionism: The individual has to be and do the best at everything he/she does. This, obviously, is not possible and so he/she feels like a failure. A sense of failure is a common characteristic of alcoholics.
Feelings of Guilt: The individual feels guilty all the time. It is as if everything they do, say or think is motivated by guilt.
Shame: The individual believes there is something wrong with them. They are somehow stained. They are different from other people, in a negative sense.
Impulsive: Much like a child, the individual does things without thinking. If they want something, they want it now. Blow the consequences.
Self-pity: What I like to call the 'poor me' syndrome. The individual feels as if nobody understands them, only they are suffering.
Under-achievement: The alcoholic will generally not do as well as their intellect/skills would allow.
Blaming: The individual will tend to blame people for their problems, mistakes etc. Nothing is their fault- me vs.the world.
A Sense of Injustice: The individual thinks every body is against him and nothings fair. Much like a child, "wah wah wah life's not fair".
Low-tolerance: The individual finds it it difficult to cope with negative feelings/situations for any period of time.
Easily Frustrated: The individual gets frustrated very quickly usually erupting into anger if something doesn't happen to go the way he/she wants or anticipated.
Unable to Receive Love: Because the individual doesn't love himself/herself then they cannot accept love and affection from others. "Why would anyone want to love someone as worthless as me?"
Dependence: The individual usually depends on other people to look after them. Because they do not believe in themselves as valuable they rely on others people's actions/words to make them feel better about themselves. We call this codependency.
So there you have it - some of the personality characteristics commonly found in alcoholics.
The Alcoholic Personality - A Result of Alcoholism
It is argued by some that the personality of an alcoholic develops after somebody has developed a drinking problem NOT before.
In other words alcohol has a psychological effect and actually 'changes' the personality of an individual.
So the characteristics you read about above are not a cause of alcoholism but a result of alcoholism.
Research in this area is ongoing and the personality traits of alcoholics are often studied in behavior analysis programs in order to find a way to curb addiction.
Is your loved one showing signs of alcoholism? Loving an alcoholic is one of the most painful things you will ever have to cope with. Yet, it doesn't need to be, C.P.Lehman in his book, Help Me! I'm In Love With An Addict gives you the strategies that will enable you to find happiness and get your life back on track...as well as other skills that are crucial when attempting to cope with an alcohol dependent.
If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice, Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)