Is there really such a thing as the alcoholic personality?
Yes and no. There is such a thing to the extent that many alcoholics who are drinking and abusing alcohol will have a tendency to share some similar behaviors. This is nothing new and should not be shocking to anyone. Drunks do stupid stuff. Over the years, this pattern of alcoholism does help to define their personality. Their repeated behavior is a large part of what makes the person who they really are. Nothing shocking there.
But as a tool of prediction, the alcoholic personality is really just a myth. The addictive personality is the same way. You just cannot look at a child and say “yes, they are probably going to grow up to be an alcoholic or a drug addict” with any degree of accuracy.
Now it is easy to look back and say that we made these types of predictions, or that “we knew it all along” that it was coming, but in reality, no one has been able to formulate any sort of predictive power when it comes to the disease of addiction.
In some cases you can look at a child, one who has alcoholic parents, and say “I think they have an a stronger chance of being an alcoholic themselves.” Well, duh. This has nothing to do with personality though. We are still not making the prediction based on the child’s personality, but only on their parents and the fact that they were alcoholic.
There is the nature versus nurture argument here too. The child could be influenced by genetics, in that both parents possibly had the “alcoholic gene.” But it could also be due to the fact that the parents drank alcoholically around the child and influenced him in a negative way while he was growing up. In the end it does not really matter whether the alcoholic was born with their addiction or if they were created. The end result is the same and the person is going to face a lot of struggle and turmoil with their drinking before they can find a better path in recovery.
In the end, the idea that we can look at a person’s personality and predict their predilection for alcoholism is just plain false. No one has been able to do so in the past and track the results to show any sort of positive correlation with certain personality traits. People who are shy and timid could be alcoholic, as are those who are aggressive and forward. There is no rhyme or reason to who is going to end up with chemical dependency. Trying to predict who based on personality is going to be misleading at best.