The personality of an alcoholic and its role in alcoholism is a controversial topic among mental health practitioners. This is a topic that will continued to be researched over time, and hopefully we will gain a better understanding with new information.
For now, what we know, is that there are common personality traits and characteristics that can be found among alcoholics. There are also three main contributing factors to their development. We will do a brief review in this article, for further information about these two areas please visit Personality of an Alcoholic.eak with an A
As stated above, there are three main factors that contribute to the development of anyone’s personality traits. Below is a brief review of each:
Environmental factors refers to our current environment as well as the one when we were growing up. This takes in to account any forms of abuse, neglect or trauma that a person may have experienced. Another factor important to our topic would be how alcohol and drinking were viewed in the household.
Psychological factors this refers to any mental health concerns that a person may have in addition to alcoholism. Common mental health concerns among alcoholics include depression, anxiety, bipolar and PTSD. A person’s development of coping skills would be considered psychological factors as well as it related to how they respond to stress and negative emotions.
Biological factors: Research has shown that there is a genetic link with alcoholism. Biological factors is simply referring to any predisposition that a person may have as a result of having family members who are addicted to alcohol and/or other substances.Sp
It is important to note that it is not uncommon for individuals to relate to some, if not many of the characteristics listed below. There is no definite correlation between these personality traits and alcoholism, and their presence does not mean that an individual is an alcoholic.
As stated above, this is meant to be a brief review. For further information and an explanation regarding the common traits please visit Personality of an Alcoholic.
How to Cope- As the Alcoholic
First we are going to look at how you can cope if you recognize these traits in yourself. If you are an alcoholic, the first step is acknowledging these characteristics and that you would like to work on them.
Keep in mind, that Rome was not built in a day and similarly, these changes take time. Many of these traits are automatic which means that very little, if any, thought goes into them when they are occurring. So the first step would be starting to recognize when these things are coming up for you.
Some may be easier to notice than others. For example, shame and guilt are emotions so they may be easier to pick up on compared to an instinct to blame others. A way to begin picking up on this would be to listen.
Listening to others feedback can be a helpful resource. Are you getting feedback that is touching on one of the characteristics you identify with? If so, take accountability for it and address it in the moment.
Resources to Help an Alcoholic Cope
There are several tools and resources that an Alcoholic can utilize when trying to decrease the presence of traits they do not like in themselves.
Therapy: Therapy is a common approach used across the various levels of care. Chances are that you would be exposed to therapy in any of the treatment settings, however group therapy would be the most common approach used. Research has shown that for those struggling with addiction, group therapy tends to have a stronger impact than individual therapy.
For those who may not meet full criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, or feel as though their drinking is just problematic, individual therapy may be an appropriate option for you. Some individuals struggle with mental health concerns and have poor coping skills which can lead to the use of alcohol to numb the negative emotions. If you can relate to that, then individual therapy can help you build your coping skill set and hopefully lead to a decrease in your problematic drinking.
With therapy, both group and individual, the therapist will help provide feedback and different perspectives that can help a person gain insight into their behavior. The benefits of therapy is that it is confidential, and that the counselor is an unbiased individual who will not judge you for your thoughts and actions. There are of course limitations to confidentiality, however you should be informed of that before any counseling work is started.
Self Help Groups: It is possible that you may have already heard about Alcoholics Anonymous or other self-help groups like Smart Recovery. Many alcoholics find that engaging in these groups help them take accountability for their current and past behaviors.
Alcoholics Anonymous involves going through a set program called the Steps which many feel helps them address guilt and shame that they carry as well as resentments. It is also helpful to be able to talk to another alcoholic about these traits as they can likely relate to you better than someone who is not an addict or alcoholic.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is an approach commonly used in the treatment for anxiety which is also beneficial for those who struggle with addiction. The goal of mindfulness is to be in the present moment, compared to worrying about the future and/or the past. This can help with anxiety, fears, shame, guilt and with irritability.
Learning to practice mindfulness takes time, and for many can be a challenge. An additional trait among alcoholics impatience which means that waiting for the changes of mindfulness to have an effect can become frustrating. If you can relate to this, know that this is a completely normal challenge, and that you should continue trying.
Resources to Cope As a Loved One
Having an addict or alcoholic in your life that you love can be a very challenging relationship. This can be with a partner, a parent, a child, other family members or close friends. Many find that this can be a bit like a rollercoaster with its unpredicted ups and downs.
So how can you cope with the stress of it while trying to support your loved one? The hardest answer, and probably the most important one, is to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. There is a reason why you are asked to put your mask on before assisting other in emergency situations on an airplane.
If we are not taking care of ourselves, we are in no place to be helping others. Easier said than done, however you need to make yourself a priority.
Therapy: Therapy is an option that could provide you with unbiased support. A therapist is able to work with you about improving your own coping skills for negative emotions and stress that may be of benefit. Therapy can be a safe place to talk about your worries and fears, which can help decrease feelings of isolation.
ALANON: ALANON is not associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, however there are many similarities between the two. Individuals who participate in Al-anon meetings have a loved one in their life that struggles with an addiction.
Many members feel that these meetings are a safe place to learn and receive support for a common challenge. Being in a room with others is another way to decrease any feelings of isolation that may arise.
Regular Self Care- The topic of self-care can have a variety of different meanings. When thinking about self-care, it is doing things that help address different areas of your life in a positive way.
Areas that can be addressed with self-care include physical health, mental health, emotional health and spiritual health.
An additional piece to self-care would be trying to find a balance in your life. This balance would be between your work life, personal life, caring for others and caring for yourself to name a few. Think about the different responsibilities you have, and now think about where you place taking care of your own needs. For more information about living with an alcoholic, please visit the related pages.
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