The expression “Type A” personality has been around for decades, describing someone who is hard-wired with a strong drive for success. It can lead to an all consuming passion in search of a goal, and feelings of invincibility, which only increase with each dose of achievement. However, those same powerful urges that motivate a Type A personality simultaneously represent all of the hallmarks that can lead to addiction. That’s why we Type A personalities need to be even more vigilant and careful than everyone else.
The famous musician Tom Petty, who died last year of a tragic, accidental drug overdose, stands out as such an example. He was clearly very talented and driven. He also felt an unwavering commitment to his fans, as exhibited by completing his final 53 date tour with a fractured hip. However, he was also plagued by emphysema, chronic knee problems and advancing coronary artery disease. Yet, the show must go on. Petty typically used numerous pain medications during an average day, just to get by, but that all accelerated on tour as his fractured hip evolved into a full break. The post-mortem discovered a toxic mix of fentanyl, oxycodone, xanax, restoril and celexa in his system on the day of his passing. It was an untimely death that shocked the music industry and fans around the world.
Tom Petty stands out because he is famous, but he is really just a proxy for all other Type A personalities in all kinds of careers and from all walks of life, men and women a like. Pain comes in all sorts of forms and variations from physical to emotional, and usually some combination of both. The desire for a quick fix from drugs and alcohol is an overwhelming temptation. And, even as we are aware of the potential consequences, our feelings of invincibility leave us convinced that we are somehow above it all. The most unfortunate then overdose, with the remainder of us struggling with the self-sabotage that accompanies our disease.
Then again, that same powerful drive can also be used as an ally. After all, you are the woman or man who can accomplish anything. Perhaps you were strong enough to resist peer pressure and temptation to begin with, and have been a teetotaler your entire life. Great! If not, and you recognize that you’re in over your head, you need to reach out for help and re-discover that powerful inner you to help heroically lift yourself back to sobriety. We may feel “all powerful” but none of us can do recovery alone. No one can. Besides, that “all powerful” sensation eventually presents itself as nothing more than an illusion as we come to realize that such only exists in our Higher Power.
A Type A personality is both a blessing and a curse. It’s much like fire which can be used to both create and destroy. How will you use yours? When you recognize and understand the power of addiction, you are truly in control. Your Type A personality can then help you to mold a beautiful life, instead of sending you headlong in a precariously dangerous direction down a steep embankment of destruction and despair.