A person’s life is significantly affected by substance use disorder, which harms their health, relationships, careers, and finances. The brain, however, may be the area where the effect is perhaps the greatest. Depending on the substance’s type, the person’s habits, and other factors, substances have different effects on the brain. Studies have shown that substance abuse can alter the critical brain regions we rely on to think, feel pleasure, control our emotions, restrain our impulses, and even breathe and sleep.
You may observe personality and behavioral changes, such as estrangement from loved ones, secrecy, or an increase in risk-taking, if you or someone you know battles addiction.
Can a person’s personality be altered by addiction?
A person’s behavior and personality can change as a result of addiction, making them appear completely different. The brain controls all of our vital processes, enabling us to process and react to everything we encounter and determining how we behave. According to research, addiction can completely change the reward circuitry in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
Dopamine sends the message that the experience should be remembered when a positive and healthy event activates the reward circuitry. Neuronal changes brought on by this dopamine signal make it simpler to repeat the action automatically. Substances that can induce euphoria result in larger dopamine spikes, which strengthens the association between using the substance and enjoying yourself.
Dopamine essentially trains the brain to seek out substances instead of more beneficial pursuits.
Consistent substance use can therefore result in a variety of behavioral alterations that are typical of addicts. When drugs or alcohol take center stage in a person’s life, they may put their priorities above everything else—including relationships, work, school, and even life itself. As cravings start to take hold, you might notice addictive behavior and personality changes. The person might distance themselves from friends and family or start keeping their activities a secret more and more.
Specific substances can cause some personality changes. For instance, abusing illegal stimulants can result in restlessness, aggression, anxiety, delusions, and depression, while abusing opioids can result in problems with attention, memory, awareness, and coordination.
Because substances can result in long-lasting changes in your personality and brain, addiction is regarded as a relapsing disease. Even years after quitting, there is a higher risk of relapse for those in addiction recovery.
6 Ways Substance Abuse Alters Your Personality
Chronic disease like addiction has the power to alter our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. While many people experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping a substance, many of these unfavorable effects can last for years. Here are 10 ways that substance abuse can alter your personality:
1. More Confidentiality
People who struggle with addiction are frequently more private and protective of their privacy. When people ask them questions, they might speak less and exhibit suspicion.
This could be due to one or more causes. They may be aware that their friends and family would find their substance abuse or illicit drug use to be unacceptable. The person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction may become aware of their struggles as a result. They don’t want their loved ones to be aware of how frequently or even that they even use drugs. They might minimize the extent of their addiction and tell themselves lies to support it. Relationship tension, mistrust, and suspicion can result from this.
Second, they might seek out illegal substances while being worried about getting into trouble with the law or making other people in trouble with the law. They might start living more in secrecy and take great measures to hide it.
2. Violence and Angry
As addiction worsens, people may find it harder to defend their addiction, which may result in aggressive behavior (verbal or physical). People may even use violence against those who attempt to assist them in quitting drugs, creating more problems. There is a connection between addiction and rage, according to research.
Although other factors may also be at play, this may result from the substance’s effects and withdrawal symptoms. Aggressive behavior can also be influenced by long-term stress, unresolved trauma, or a lack of anger control and stress-reduction strategies. The person might become enraged with themselves for having an addiction and vent their resentment on others.
Addicts will often go to great lengths to obtain their drug of choice. This frequently entails misleading or controlling those around them. Your loved one may use strong cravings as an excuse for these behaviors if they are battling addiction, and they may also become overcome with feelings of guilt and desperation.
Additionally, abusing substances or using illegal drugs can impair a person’s ability to use good judgment and make decisions. They might make an effort to exert control over the things or people around them in an effort to make up for their lack of control. At this stage of addiction, manipulation techniques are common, as are self-deception and denial.
Different substances have different effects on judgment. One example is alcohol, where intoxication can lead to bad judgment and affect decision-making. Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause reckless behavior due to overconfidence or paranoia. The person may feel less likely to care about risky situations or bad outcomes as the brain is affected over time. Numerous substances can also lower inhibitions, which increases the likelihood that someone will act riskily while under the influence.
Since drugs affect cognition and disrupt memory processing, substance use disorders can cause memory issues. As the disease advances in a person you know who has an addiction, you might observe them becoming more forgetful.
Blackouts and other memory-related issues are also brought on by alcohol. Memory blackouts brought on by alcohol can make it challenging to store short-term memories permanently.
6. Frequently Changing Moods
Using drugs or alcohol can make your brain unstable. When the effects of cocaine wear off, many people experience depression as dopamine levels in certain brain regions rise. Alcohol may at first reduce anxiety symptoms, but as the brain overcorrects, those symptoms get worse.
You might start out feeling at ease before becoming agitated or hostile later on. When trying to stop using drugs or alcohol without a doctor’s supervision, mood swings are frequently a side effect of withdrawal symptoms. According to some studies, prolonged use can weaken the prefrontal cortex’s emotional regulation-related regions. As a result, people struggle to control their emotions and have fluctuating levels of neurotransmitters.
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