Personality Traits of a Recovered Alcoholic (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss the Personality Traits of a Recovered Alcoholic. We will do that by describing alcoholism, its symptoms, its risk factors, and the personality traits of alcoholics. It will follow up with a description of what a recovered alcoholic looks like and also the personality traits of a recovered alcoholic.

Personality Traits of a Recovered Alcoholic

 Based on research, a recovered alcoholic is someone who has achieved sobriety, passed through the process of alcohol dependence recovery, has improved his health and wellness, lives a self-directed life and strives to reach their full potential. Research indicates that it is likely that the personality traits of a recovered alcoholic changes after the recovery period.  A few of these are suggested as follows:

  • They have decreased physical tension in their body.
  • They have lower social desirability after recovery from alcoholism in comparison to their social desirability before recovery.
  • They also have decreased anxiety about somatic and physical concerns.
  • They have normalized monotony avoidance. This means that such people no longer use alcohol to escape from feelings of monotony or feelings of being in a rut.
  • It is possible that they become more verbally aggressive after the alcohol recovery period.
  • They have high self-efficacy.
  • They have high frustration tolerance.
  • They are more goal-oriented.

It must be mentioned that the above points are the results of only two scientific studies and may not generalize to all recovered alcoholics’ personality traits. Individual differences may exist. These results only point to a trend.

What is Alcoholism?

 Alcoholism, when reaches a clinical status, is known as Alcohol use disorder. In this condition, a person develops a strong need to consume alcohol despite being aware of its negative impacts. A person who experiences this state on a regular basis is referred to as an alcoholic. In DSM (V), if excessive usage of alcohol starts affecting the functioning of a person, it becomes a diagnosable condition and is labeled as Alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol usage is increasing among the US population especially since 6.2% of people have been found to experience an alcohol use problem. Similarly, the World health organization (WHO) has stated that alcohol usage is the reason behind 3.3 million deaths per year.

If we define alcoholism, it is a problematic drinking behavior that becomes severe with the passage of time. People with this condition have difficulty knowing when and how to stop drinking alcohol. Due to this, they start to experience problems in their daily functioning, at their job as well as in their relationship.

Symptoms of an Alcoholism

A person with alcohol  use disorder may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Drinking is done in isolation or while hiding from others
  • Difficulty limiting the consumption of alcohol
  • Experiences of blackouts and not remembering certain chunks of time
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Experiencing an urge to consume alcohol
  • Feelings of irritability in absence of alcohol or when nearing the routine time to drink alcohol
  • Hiding and storing alcohol in unique places
  • Facing difficulty in finances, relationships, at work, or with the law due to a drinking problem
  • The amount of alcohol needed increases in order to feel its effect
  • In absence of drinking, a person experiences nausea, shaking, and sweating.
  • Having a ritual for drinking every day e.g. drink during a meal, after a meal, etc., and experiencing irritability if someone comments on it.

Risk factors of alcoholism

Apart from these, there are certain risk factors that increase the chance of a person developing an addiction to alcohol. These include the following:

  • Genetic vulnerability i.e. if a person has a family history of an alcohol use disorder, he/she is more likely to be an alcoholic
  • Age of first alcohol drink i.e. People who start drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to have problems with alcohol use in later life.
  • Ease of access: People who are exposed to alcohol more e.g. being able to access alcohol at a cheap rate etc, are more likely to use it again in the future.
  • Company: People who have peers who drink on a regular basis, are more likely to develop a drinking problem themselves.
  • Media: When the media portrays the usage of alcohol as attractive, people are more likely to consume it since they think it is an acceptable behavior
  • Alcohol Metabolism: Some people naturally have a metabolism that requires them to consume large amounts of alcohol to achieve its effect which can ultimately create dependency.

Personality traits of an Addictive Personality

A person who is more likely to show addictive behavior including drug and alcohol addiction may have certain underlying personality traits. It is important to mention that having these traits does not mean, it is certain that the person will get addicted or become an alcoholic. It’s just that these traits increase the likelihood that a person may develop an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

The first trait is impulsivity. These people are more likely to act on impulse and show risky behavior despite being aware of the negative consequences. We can say that these people do not think before they act. When they do act, they find it hard to stop themselves. We can apply this to alcoholics and understand why they are drawn to and consume alcohol.

Another aspect of a person more likely to get addicted is how they react to stress. People who are more likely to worry, panic, experience anxiety, etc may turn to alcohol or other drugs as a means of coping. So we can say that they have poor self-coping. Similarly, People with low self-esteem may depend on alcohol to take away the pain and the same is the case with people experiencing depression. We can assume that it is likely that such people are high on neuroticism in terms of personality traits.

It is also possible that these people possess the traits of being impatient, defensive, secretive, and manipulative. This is because when they get addicted, they frequently show behaviors of deception, have a low frustration tolerance, and manipulate others to get what they want and that is usually the substance or alcohol they are addicted to

Another thing common in such people is that they might be more isolated and withdrawn in nature. Their social support system may not be strong enough which could be a contributory factor of why they are drawn to alcohol in the first place. Furthermore, if they are careful about how they are perceived by others (i.e sensitive about their social image) possibly due to low self-esteem, they may not open up to others easily about what they are going through.

A Recovered Alcoholic

People who are able to overcome their dependence on Alcohol have passed through the process of recovery. Based on their new lifestyle of recovery, recovered alcoholics have learned to be sober. The definition of recovery includes ‘a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.’ According to SAMHSA.

Recovered alcoholics have overcome the following aspects after the process of recovery. These include:

  • Health: Such people are able to reduce their unhealthy symptoms and make choices that support their mental and physical health.
  • Stability in home life
  • Getting back to Routine: Recovered alcoholics have learned to get their life back together especially in terms of stable income, participation in daily activities, being more social in relationships, etc.
  • Community: People who have recovered from alcoholism are able to connect with their community and have a social network they can turn to.

Personality traits of recovered alcoholics

A study suggested that alcoholics who go through a period of recovery may experience certain changes in personality traits. Over a period of 5 years, women were inquired about personality changes after the first episode of alcohol abuse. They were also inquired about psychiatric history including depression and anxiety. Their personality traits were assessed as well. A follow up was done after 5 years. The results indicated that women who had recovered from alcoholism had personality changes in terms of normalized scores for physical tension, social desirability, somatic anxiety, monotony avoidance, and irritability. However, they had increased scores for verbal aggression. Whereas, those women who had developed alcoholism during or after follow-up had higher scores for both verbal aggression and impulsivity. Apart from this, other personality traits were stable.

Another study suggested that people who had recovered from substance abuse had scored high for goal-orientation, self-efficacy, and frustration-tolerance. Whereas, those who had relapsed had high scores for impulsivity, antisocial personality traits, and affective disorders.

FAQs: Personality Traits of a Recovered Alcoholic

How does alcohol affect a person’s personality?

Prolonged usage of alcohol may lead to lower levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness. They may have high scores for emotional stability and extraversion. A possible reason could be that these personality changes are due to the usage of alcohol and may not depict the actual personality of the person.

What considers you to be an alcoholic?

For a person to be considered an alcoholic, he/she must have a desire or need to consume alcohol despite it having negative effects on their functioning. These people find it difficult to control their urge to have alcohol and become dependent on it for functioning.

Why does alcohol make you mean?

Alcohol can make one mean and aggressive since the effect of alcohol leads a person to focus on instigatory cues rather than inhibitory cues.

Can alcohol permanently damage your brain?

Prolonged usage of alcohol can lead to permanent brain damage and nervous system damage. Whereas, short-term drinking may contribute to reduced brain functioning which can affect vision, reaction time, memory, coordination, etc.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the Personality Traits of a Recovered Alcoholic. We found that based on research, a recovered alcoholic is someone who has achieved sobriety, passed through the process of alcohol dependence recovery, has improved his/her health and wellness, lives a self-directed life, and strives to reach their full potential. Research indicates that it is likely that the personality traits of a recovered alcoholic changes after the recovery period.  A few of these include decreased physical tension in their body, lower social desirability, decreased anxiety about the somatic and physical concerns, low monotony avoidance, high verbal aggression, high self-efficacy, high frustration tolerance and high goal-orientation. It must be mentioned that these are the results of only two scientific studies and may not generalize to all recovered alcoholics’ personality traits. Individual differences may exist. These results only point to a trend.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17763121/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/074054729190051B

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157163#_noHeaderPrefixedContent

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-exactly-is-recovery-67303

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/drug-addiction/addictive-personality-addictive-personality-traits-signs/

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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