As drug dependency begins to take a physical hold on a dependent individual, personality changes can occur. Illegal drugs begin to affect brain function—including the areas regulating cognition and mood—by altering chemical messengers in the brain known as neurotransmitters. While some illegal drugs create specific and predictable alterations in personality, others can initiate erratic behavior and moods uncharacteristic of the person behind the addiction.
Personality Changes in Drug Dependency
Because of the nature of chemical dependency, certain predictable chemical changes occur when various drugs interact with the brain. As dependency progresses, personality changes become more marked, tragically taking users away from their truest selves. Here are just a few of the stereotypical personality changes that occur when specific drugs are used.
As a stimulant, cocaine tends to incite irritable, edgy behavior. Users become forgetful, secretive, and dishonest. Depression can alternate with aggression, leading to rapid mood swings. Users can act manic and arrogant when high and depressed and lethargic when withdrawal sets in.
Over time, methamphetamine dependency can drastically change a person’s personality. Users become aggressive, impulsive and selfish. Anxiety and agitation alternates with avoidance and depression. Meth users develop anti-social personality traits, showing little empathy and callous behavior.
- Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids, often used for athletic performance, can also create drastic changes in personality. “Roid rage” can also set in, marked by periods of high aggression and even physical violence.
Angeldust, or PCP, can create detached behavior as its dissociative properties kick in. Users experience a loss of natural ego boundaries, leading to a sense of depersonalization where they seem to “space out” or feel otherworldly. PCP users often act dishonestly to the point of delusion, and experience high levels of anger towards others. PCP users can also begin to experience psychotic breaks, and schizophrenic behavior.
The personality changes that crack cocaine causes tends to differ from other forms of cocaine. Crack can create euphoric, overconfident behavior where the ego becomes magnified. Crack users also experience high impulsivity, an overload of energy, and delusions and hallucinations, marked by illogical thought and disjointed cognition.
Ecstasy use often leads to intimate, animated, and highly social behavior during periods of use. Users become philosophical, with spiritual feelings and a desire for physical and emotional closeness. However, prolonged ecstasy use can create periods of depression, isolation, and dissociation.
Marijuana dependent individuals become lethargic and self-satisfied during dependency. They become easily amused, with short-term memory problems that create situations marked by irresponsible behavior. Marijuana users will often seem less mentally sharp than usual and experience bouts of mild depression during long-term use.