How Does Addiction Cause Changes in Personality?

man in dipression

Have you noticed some differences in a loved one’s personality since they started using alcohol or drugs? Has there been a drastic change?

It’s a normal reaction for addicts to change their personalities because of their addiction. They are only able to function from their substance use, so their lives become consumed with getting more of it.

Are you wondering how addiction causes changes in personality? Keep reading to find the answer.

Loss of Interest

Addiction can cause a drastic shift in an individual’s personality, often marking a decline in energy and enthusiasm, as well as a general lack of motivation. With time, substance addiction can take away someone’s appetite for the things they were once passionate about, leading to a loss of interest in activities that once held high levels of joy and satisfaction.

Increased Secrecy

An increased need for secrecy is one of the signs of addiction. People with addiction may tell stories to cover up their illness or opt to keep activities relating to their addiction hidden from those who may be close to them.

Secrecy is not only limited to the addiction itself. It also means trust is broken and a wedge is driven between the person and their support system. The addict may begin to lead a secret double life which further exacerbates the issue of secrecy.

Addiction can also cause a sense of guilt and shame which encourages further secrecy as the individual may not want to face the reality of their illness or may want to avoid the potential consequences of their addiction. As such, increased secrecy is often an unfortunate consequence of addiction caused by the wide-ranging changes to an individual’s personality.

Increased Aggression and Anger

Substance abuse can alter the chemical balance of the brain, interact with neurotransmitter systems, and reduce inhibition. Because of this, people with addiction become more irritable. They can also be hostile and temperamental. They may also have more conflicts within relationships and with people out in the world.

Withdrawal can also lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger. This increases aggression and can cause people to act out in unpredictable ways. All these aspects can morph the personality of an addicted person and result in greater aggression.

Depression or Anxiety

Addiction can cause changes in personality, particularly with depression or anxiety. People with addiction often lose control of their moods. People with addiction often lose control of their moods. This will make them feel overwhelmed and depressed. This, combined with shame and guilt can create a feeling of isolation and further depression.

Their anxiety often spirals due to the fear of relapse or consequences. The change in personality can be stark and can be observed in social behaviors such as:

  • increased irritability
  • apathy
  • isolative behavior

The family and friends of the individual may note that their loved one has become increasingly more hostile; never allowing anyone to reach them again. Addiction can cause changes in personality that can lead to a severe deterioration of quality of life. This will leave a person overwhelmed and vulnerable to despair.

girl in anxity


When the user becomes increasingly dependent on the substance, they often forget to meet obligations and perform duties. Their work can also be affected and may not be able to perform the duties and work assigned to them.

This forgetfulness also leads to unpleasant and sometimes dangerous situations. This can include missing doctor’s appointments or failing to take medications. Forgetting to pay bills can also happen.

Those who suffer from addiction become more prone to forgetting important details because they are preoccupied with seeking and consuming drugs. All these will hurt life.

Changes in Friends

Many individuals with addictions develop depression, anxiety, and even violent tendencies. As a result, they tend to push away people who were once close to them and behave differently around them. They may also start withdrawing from social events and activities that they are previously interested in.

As friends notice the change in behavior, especially drug-seeking behavior, they tend to step away. Changed behavior can lead to relationships becoming strained. Due to the change in personality, a weakening of relationships will happen. This will then strain the friendship.

Legal Trouble

One of the most drastic changes is the development of impulsive behavior. They often act without thinking leading to destructive behavior. This in turn can lead to legal trouble as addictive behavior usually violates the law.

Addicts can become detached and irresponsible, lacking in logic or common sense. Legal trouble can further exacerbate this sense of recklessness, as minor, legal violations become more serious. Addicts may engage in criminal acts such as theft to maintain their addictive habits.


Individuals engaging in addictive behaviors often manipulate people to access the substances they are addicted to. This will lead to an increased level of deception. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as requests for money, lying about using drugs, and misleading conversations. this will create social isolation.

Furthermore, increased deception can compound into a distorted sense of reality. This will cause people to view themselves and their behavior as acceptable. Thus, resulting in serious consequences in one’s life.

Increased Paranoia

Increased paranoia is often seen in those who struggle with addiction. The fear of consequences and being judged by others can be extremely debilitating. Paranoia can cause an individual to distance themselves from those close to them, become less trusting, and defensive when pushed upon.

In severe cases, addicts can even enter into states of psychosis in which hallucinations are experienced. This will place a further strain on mental health. Ultimately, addiction is an insidious illness that can cause drastic changes in personality. With the right support, this condition can be treated.

Becoming More Selfish

Individuals suffering from addiction often become more selfish as their disease progresses. This sees them become more focused on obtaining their substance of choice than providing and caring for themselves or other people. They can become more intolerant of others.

Their priorities may change and will be more focused on short-term goals. Individuals with an addiction may not recognize the changes in their personality.

Not Trusting Others

Addiction can cause profound changes in the addictive person’s personality, and one of the most commonly seen results is a dwindling or complete lack of trust in others. Deeply rooted in the affected individual’s subconscious, trust issues are a common result of addiction.

This distrust is often accompanied by fear of not being accepted. Or the fear of criticism and judgment from other individuals. The affected individual could potentially mistrust even close family and friends. This will lead to estrangement.

This lack of trust can be a destructive and difficult trait to overcome in someone’s recovery journey. This is usually treated by counseling and therapy.

Engaging in Risky Behavior

Addiction has the potential to alter a person’s behavior, thinking, and personality. People with addiction may become more reckless and engage in risky behavior. They may abandon responsibilities and take part in activities that once seemed too risky or unappealing.

As a result, impulsivity or sudden decision-making may increase and this will lead to negative consequences. This can have long-term consequences on the individual.

Sudden Change in the Mood

The area of a sudden change in mood is often seen with addiction. These sudden changes in mood can range from euphoria, as is seen with certain drug addictions, to irritability, and in extreme cases even downright hostility and aggression.

Additionally, an addicted person may find his or her thoughts or attitudes becoming increasingly deceptive. This can be seen in their perception of the potential consequences that might result as a result of their addiction, as well as in the behavior and logic that they employ as they attempt to justify their substance abuse.

Due to a change in mood, the person can be harder to recognize due to the changes that an addiction can cause an individual.

Know the Changes in Personality of an Addict

Addiction has the potential to drastically alter behaviors, emotions, and routines. It can lead to physical and mental deterioration of one’s personality and can result in a wide array of issues.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it is crucial to seek help to identify changes in personality. Only with help can an individual work to break the grasp of addiction and live a healthier, more balanced life.

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