How to Recognize and Handle Addictive Personality Disorder

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about my addiction to colored pens. While the post was all in good fun, the truth is that I am addicted to using colored pens. Whether it stems from my mild OCD or is a coping mechanism that escalated along with overeating after I quit smoking, I still have at least fifty multi-hued ink pens (all fine or medium tipped!) waiting for me to use them. Along with the set of patiently waiting notebooks and large pile of yarn, these pens are a silent testament to my inner self.

You may think, “what’s the big deal about paper, pens, and yarn?” You’re right, but what if it was still tobacco, or what if my occasional beer piled up like my yarn? Addictive Personality Disorder is not diagnosed as often as alcoholism or drug addiction, but many of the people who try to clean up their lives and move away from harmful addictions turn around and fill that void with the ceremony of a ‘not-so-harmful’ addiction. Smokers who quit and overeat, drug addicts who clean up and begin pouring their time into exercise, and even overeaters who suddenly become addicted to counting calories all exhibit signs of APD. There are even some who become addicted to certain emotions!

Some common traits of Addictive Personality Disorder Include:

  • Impulsive behavior or lack of impulse control
  • Being prone to seek out excitement
  • The feeling of being alienated from society
  • A lack of patience and/or being easily frustrated
  • Low self-esteem, though often times popular
  • Rebellious behavior against authorities, rules, laws, etc. (includes, lying, stealing, breaking laws, etc. May also include an addiction to getting tattoos/piercings when family/friends find those things ‘taboo’)
  • Sensitivity to stress
  • An all or nothing mentality
  • A lack of intimacy or ability to have healthy relationships


While each individual is different, thus making each case of addiction different, these tell-tale signs might help you to see a pattern of addiction in yourself or those around you. If you find that to be the case, there are several things that can help you and others handle addictions.

  • First, admit that there is a problem.
  • Once you have admitted the problem, seek help in the form of counseling or even close friends (therapy is recommended)
  • Learn ways to cope with stress that allow you remain calm and without need of those stress relieving addictions.
  • Provide pep talks and personal mantras for yourself. I.e. “I CAN, I AM, I WILL, I DO.” Or even, “I am smart, I am wise, I am healthy, etc.”
  • Diet and Exercise – while these can help refocus your mind and detox your body while keeping you grounded in the ‘present moment’ (it is crucial to stop worrying over the past and stressing out over the future – these are key triggers for many addicts) they can also become the new focus of addictions. Keep this in mind and be very strict on the types and amounts of diet/exercise that you indulge in. The goal is to be healthy.
  • Cold water, deep breathing, yoga, – helps you to calm down, resets/calms the nervous system and emotions.

One of the main things to remember is to keep away from the harmful/previous addiction and surround yourself with a good support group. You are not in this alone, you are not just an addict, and you CAN overcome these trials and issues.


Sources and Other Reading:


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Just a small portion of my ‘stash’

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