Type D Personalities and Addiction

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Most people may be familiar with the idea of a type A personality, or similar shorthand for groups of personality traits that some people may have. In psychology and medicine there are a number of these letter-based personality identifiers, including something known as Type D. Type D stands for distressed, and type D personalities tend to struggle with a group of feelings that are closely related to anxiety, or the feeling that something bad may be happening. According to Denoliet et al. Type D personality is associated with a tendency to focus on negative affectivity. This includes worrying too much or feelings of “doom and gloom”. Type D personality traits are also linked to social inhibition and not wanting to spend time with other people. Before looking at the studies that were used for today’s article, I was not aware of Type D personalities, and I did not know that there were personality traits associated with mostly negative feelings, without positive traits to balance them out. Type D personality traits seem to be something that a patient would try to work on with a therapist, as many of these associated traits are connected to negative life outcomes.

One negative outcome we are interested in here would be substance use disorder, or addiction. We could guess that some of these traits might lend themselves to an increased likelihood for developing a substance abuse problem. As one example, fear of social interaction has been a common reason for people to use alcohol and other drugs to excess. For just that simple reason we could believe that Type D personalities might have increased addiction risk, but we must look at the evidence that scientists have produced. There are studies that have looked at this issue directly, but the main study we will look at today used nicotine addiction as their variable of choice. Before we get into the science, many people come to the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida seeking help for their own substance use disorders. If you or a loved one needs more information on seeking treatment at Florida Springs, the best drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, please call us today to speak to an intake professional or for any questions you may have.

Type D Personalities and Nicotine

The intention of the study we are looking at today was to identify the association between type D personality and nicotine addiction. The study looked at groups of teenagers who had expressed interest in smoking cessation. The students were from 27 high schools around the country. Analysis by the authors revealed that initiating smoking before or during 5th grade, smoking 21 or more cigarettes daily, and having a type D personality were significantly related to smoking cessation failure. Type D personality was significantly associated with social nicotine dependency and was a predictor of smoking cessation failure after a stop smoking program.

The authors state that, “Type D personality should be considered along with other smoking‐related factors when attempting to promote smoking cessation among high school adolescents.” In other words, Type D personalities were a very strong indicator for students having increased struggles with nicotine addiction, and these struggles were explicitly connected to social pressures by the authors.

In the same ways that nicotine addiction can follow from social pressures for young people, so to can even more serious substance use disorders. Young people have always connected drinking and social pressure, and to a slightly lesser extent using hard drugs can be associated with similar social pressures. Not only do Type D personalities have to deal with possible social pressure from a peer group to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, but Type D personalities have natural social inhibitions. Drinking alcohol, therefore, could be even more dangerous for young people with Type D personalities than nicotine, as alcohol is often seen as a cure for social inhibitions, much more so than smoking. Although the authors of this study concentrated their efforts on teen smoking and Type D personalities, we can surmise from their research that parents and responsible adults around young people with Type D personality traits should be advised of this greater possible risk of alcohol use disorders, and specifically a greater risk of not being able to stop drinking.

Type D personalities are a group of traits that people working in substance abuse treatment at the best drug and alcohol rehabs should be cognizant of. If a patient in drug or alcohol rehab is known to have a Type D personality, it may be smart to provide greater focus on these social pressures and social inhibition-related factors in the decision-making processes of people with a Type D personality.

By T.A. Cannon


KIM, S. R. et al. Type D personality as a predictor of smoking cessation failure in smoking high school adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, [s. l.], v. 56, n. 1, p. 79–91, 2019. DOI 10.1002/pits.22190. Disponível em: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=tfh&AN=133390158&site=eds-live&scope=site. Acesso em: 11 mar. 2022.