Addiction and Birth Order

I immediately fell in love with Adler’s idea of the importance of birth order and family constellations. I -of course- tried to analyze myself and some of the “only child” traits completely matched my personality.

The only child is often surrounded by adults and might develop difficulties when she or he starts communicating with other children. They can be more serious than their peers who have siblings. On the other hand, it is not uncommon that an only child becomes more artistic and introvert. Some studies found proof that growing up without siblings affects brain development. Adler also argued that children’s relationships with younger or older siblings matter as well. For example, the youngest sibling may enjoy the attention of his or her older family members, while older children need to put on the role of the caretaker. If birth order influences brain development and brain chemistry, is that possible that it is related to addiction somehow?

Researchers did not find evidence that this was the case. However, results showed that middle and last borns are at higher risk of engaging in risky behaviors than first borns. Smoking, drinking, and experimenting with drugs are a bit more common among these individuals. Behaviors regarding sexual activity are affected by birth order as well. Obviously, risky behavior doesn’t mean that the person develops addiction toward substances, but professionals already revealed some connections between the two. Hence, it would be critical to further investigate the effects of birth order.

It is interesting that all of my best friends were last borns. We attracted risky situations especially when it came to sex. As long as we stuck together and supported each other (on vacations, during and after parties, etc.), our parents gave us freedom. Maybe these behaviors had nothing to do with birth order but one thing is for sure: I was the only person who didn’t have siblings and I was the only one who got addicted to alcohol. Huh…


Argys, L. M., Rees, D. I., Averett, S. L., & Witoonchart, B. (2006). Birth order and risky adolescent behavior. Economic Inquiry, 44(2), 215-233.

Capuzzi, D. & Gross, D. R. (2011). Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.



2 thoughts on “Addiction and Birth Order

  1. I find this fascinating but from my own experience, a little off the mark. I have 3 kids, adults now. It was my middle child who became an addict at 13. The eldest didn’t even drink underage. My youngest has the best balance. My own journey was similar to that of my kids. I’m the eldest of 2. I didn’t drink underage either, nor did I experiment with drugs. My addictions were other things – unimportant but relevant too. I’m an artist. All 3 of mine are massively creative but 2 of them are uninterested in the Creative Industry. The eldest did for a while.


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