The adverse effects of mental disorders – like mania and obsessive-compulsive disorder – can be managed. A person who learns how to control addictive behavior can redirect the energies of addictive behavior into positive directions.
People with addictive personalities are often more open to ideas with high risks and rewards. They are attracted to new things and experiences. Their predisposition to novelty makes them much more likely to take creative risks, which can pay off quite handsomely for themselves and other people.
In the past, risk-taking behavior contributed to the rise and benefits of many civilizations. One example is how Christopher Columbus discovered the New World because he took a considerable risk.
After a society achieved stability, the healthy avenues for these risk-taking behaviors decreased. People with addictive personalities turned to other, less beneficial ways to attain a sense of reward, such as eating junk foods.
"Perhaps by developing alternate channels for the natural drive for new experiences and challenges to flow, the need to seek exciting states in chemical fixes would diminish," suggested behavioral researcher Judy Grisel of Bucknell University. "Even better, society as a whole might benefit as novelty-seekers trailblaze for us all." (Related: Is nutritional psychiatry the future of mental health treatments?)
Addictive personality also offers the opportunity to achieve mastery of the mind. It is a welcome consequence of living with anxiety, a common symptom of mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Anxious people bounce between having a busy mind and trying to escape the contents of their mind. Individuals with addictive behaviors can learn to recognize the signs of a powerful urge to do something.
In the process of spotting and controlling triggers for addictive behavior, people improve their mindfulness and self-awareness. In turn, they experience a higher sense of mental well-being.
People with addictive personalities who wish to master their triggers must identify the cause for their powerful desires and anticipate the time when these cravings come up. A helpful technique is to shuffle one's feet and spend the next couple of breaths clearing the mind.
Contrary to popular belief, addictive behavior does not mean the person lacks willpower. Instead, it's the opposite – a person who does everything in his power to get what he is addicted to is certainly not lacking in dedication.
Patients can put that drive to good use by coming to terms with their addiction. By recognizing their ability to direct their willpower into something beneficial, healthy, and productive, they can discover the benefits of their different mental wiring.
Last but not least, people with addictive personalities are much more resilient than other people give them credit for. They encounter their addiction on a constant basis. In boxing terms, they get knocked down a lot, but they also get up again.
Many healthy people are afraid of failure. They will think about changing their goals, but they are too scared of acting on those plans.
People with addictive behaviors, on the other hand, are very familiar with failure. They have also learned that it is possible to pick themselves up after every failure and try all over again. As a result, they are not afraid of failing, which makes them much more likely to succeed in the end.