Study: Drug Addicts Share Key Characteristics with Successful CEOs

neuroscience professor David Linden, PhD

A recent study by neuroscience professor David Linden, PhD suggests that drug addicts share many of the same characteristics that make a successful CEO. For young men in recovery, this is a testament to the fine line that separates success from struggles. But it also serves as a reminder to the potential of life after a successful recovery. What Do Addicts and CEOs Have in Common? Addiction. According to the research, both addicts and CEOs are susceptible to having addictive personalities. They both seek risks, excitement, and novelty while maintaining many obsessive personality traits that make them effective at what they do. While this is a rewarding trait for CEOs, it also poses the lurking threat of harmful addictions as well. In his study, Linden reveals that the common perception that people become addicts because of dopamine-triggering substances or experiences is wrong. Rather, their innate dopamine rush is muted when compared to other people, so they seek out more and more extreme stimuli. Addictive personalities lead to positive outcomes when the person has self-control and awareness over their drive. But it can be equally damaging when a substance or harmful activity becomes the focus of that addiction. The implication is clear: because drug addicts share many of the same characteristics that define successful CEOs, the potential for sober living and a successful life after addiction recovery are incredible. By utilizing inherent characteristics and refocusing them on healthier and more positive activities, young men can pursue a career, enjoy healthy relationships, and anything else they desire. Instead of turning to substances to fill the need for risk taking, compulsion, and novelty seeking, turning to healthy habits and positive goals creates the potential for a visionary life. The trifecta of characteristics that enhance success gives young men a huge world of opportunity. It's important to note that transforming those characteristics is easier said than done. Significant shifts take time and an incredible amount of hard work to accomplish, but when achieved, the results are mammoth. To transform destructive addiction into personal assets and stronger character, it’s critical to:

  • Pursue holistic growth. One of the key elements of any recovery program is its focus on holistic growth and improvement. By failing to address how the entire persona grows in tandem, it’s impossible to fully take advantage of spiritual and rounded growth.
  • Focus on strengths. By learning to shift the mindset and focus on healthy and constructive activities, it’s easier to take advantage of inherent strengths and talents. While weaknesses can certainly be addressed and improved, the primary effort should be to turn strengths into habits.
  • Identify the truth. Perhaps the greatest key to overcoming a negative addiction is identifying it and coming to terms with it. This disrupts limiting beliefs and allows you to identify critical ingredients that are needed for permanent and positive change.

Linden's study not only provides evidence of the characteristics shared between addicts and CEOs, but also provides great insight to the grand possibilities of a positive, even highly successful, life after recovery.