Addict, Sociopath or Both?


A person in the grip of addiction may display several features which closely mirror that of a sociopath.  However, without achieving abstinence first, it may be hard to sort out whether or not the condition is primary or symptomatic of addiction.  Persistent and sometimes complex dishonesty is one of the primary features of the condition.  While it may seem that being a sociopath would imply that these individuals are not social, that is not the case.  Sociopathic or antisocial personalities use their exceptional social skills against society or normal socialization, in the form of manipulation, intimidation and control.  People around them are simply a means to an end.  This includes friends, loved ones and family members.  They may use others for their own personal entertainment, exhibit a history of hostility or violence and participate in high risk behaviors such as abusing drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse is often one of the high-risk behaviors associated with most personality disorders.  This may be an attempt by the individual to seek refuge from their symptoms. The specific reasons why an individual with sociopathy is abusing drugs or alcohol can best be determined in treatment but the most important thing is that they treat their problems.
A primary feature seen in a sociopath’s behavior is a lack of respect or concern for the safety of others.  An addict or alcoholic often shows no empathy for others, and may display symptoms such as irritability, agitation, manipulation and control or a dereliction of personal responsibility.  Because the behavior of someone in active addiction so closely mirrors that of the sociopath,  it may be difficult to directly see the difference between the two sets of attributes. Is the family being lied to and neglected because drugs are being abused or is it something deeper and more primary?
It is important to understand that addictions and issues like antisocial personality disorder are treatable to a certain extent. When a person seeks treatment with both or either of these disorders, the clinical staff at the facility will use a variety of methodologies, including accurate basement measures and testing, to determine the best protocol.  This will aid the clinicians in developing a specialized and comprehensive outcome-based treatment plan.
There are various treatments available for sociopaths and those with other personality disorders. The most common of which is psychotherapy.  While medications such as mood stabilizers are sometimes used, people who received cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for antisocial disorders generally showed positive results.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a short-term treatment, which lasts several weeks, however individual needs may dictate more comprehensive, longer term measures.
Due to the fact that personality disorders can be both persistent and severe, it is not uncommon for the affect individual to question the need for treatment in the first place.  This denial is the hallmark of addiction and can be particularly strong in an individual with a person with sociopathic traits. The process of treatment itself can take up to six months or a year to achieve results.  Ultimately, the success of any program of recovery from psychological conditions, drug abuse, or alcoholism, will depend on a sincere desire and earnest effort on the part of the individual to get well.
Over a long enough timeline without treatment, the combination of sociopathic personality traits and active addiction will likely lead to legal consequences. Treatment may not necessary be voluntary in order to be effective either.  Prisons, which are full of both addicts and sociopaths, have long benefited from the establishment of rehabilitation programs and 12-step groups. The outcomes tend to be beneficial even in cases where there was some degree of coercion, like a reduced or suspended sentence.

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