After learning about the benefits of taking the Enneagram Test, what does the discovery of your type and wing mean in relation to your addiction recovery?
Below is a very brief overview of how each type’s qualities have a strength and a challenge in the context of substance abuse recovery.
1. The Reformer
Strength: Type Ones are often highly self-critical. Their trademark is the motivation to improve and perfect. That combination can be used as a catalyst to seek help from a center or as a means of propelling them through a difficult part of their recovery journey.
Challenge: Ones should be wary of becoming fixated on how things “should be” to the point of losing touch with the present moment. Mindfulness can be essential to recovery.
2. The Helper
Strength: Twos are frequently described as generous, selfless, and eager to help others. This quality can inspire them to seek addiction recovery treatment in order to protect those they love.
Challenge: When dealing with any perspective of recovery, Twos should work on setting and keeping up distinct boundaries between loved ones in an effort to balance their giving of time and energy between others and themselves.
3. The Achiever
Strength: Threes can be motivated, optimistic, and hard-working—three indispensable characteristics for a successful recovery process.
Challenge: Threes tend to fuel these positive characteristics by the value that they place on the actions that they accomplish rather than on how those actions affect who they are as a person. This mentality can easily slip into unhealthy emotional habits, as it involves placing their worth and identity on something that is outside of their control.
4. The Individualist
Strength: Fours resonate intensely with their surroundings and will naturally search for connections between how they feel and the world’s interactions around them. These deep thought patterns are very similar to the kind of tools that a client might learn while in recovery. They can lead to self-revelation, which can uproot underlying issues and improve self-awareness.
Challenge: Fours are known to feel misunderstood and isolated due to their intense introspection, emotions, and creativity. These emotions can lead to restlessness and a longing for what is missing either within themselves or in their lives. In their quest for fulfillment and stimulation, Fours might turn to substances to find meaning and inspiration.
5. The Investigator
Strength: Fives often value efficiency and learning. Therefore, Fives can handle times of intense emotion or emergency situations very practically and calmly. This initial response will be extremely beneficial to anyone working through recovery, as it requires self-control and in-depth analysis of one’s surroundings.
Challenge: While it can be helpful to detach emotionally to cope with a crisis, the underlying emotions need to be processed when the Five is ready. Since “Fives are easily drained by emotionally charged situations and open-ended events or projects,” this can be a task that a Five takes on while their therapist and recovery team is supporting them (Integrative9).
Strength: Sixes are often responsible and trusting. They are loyal to the people they love and the commitments they make. In the case of recovery, dedication is extremely valuable when pushing through obstacles and maintaining family and friend connections.
Challenge: One consequence of Sixes being very trusting is that they can have an unhealthy tendency towards anxiety. They may use impulsiveness and risk-taking as a way of proving to the world and to themselves that they are not afraid, which is a destructive mindset for someone in substance abuse recovery.
7. The Enthusiast
Strength: Sevens appreciate the great parts of life by being “able to embrace sobriety and become present to themselves and the world around them.” These practices are essential to sustaining hope and motivation when experiencing substance abuse recovery.
Challenge: The drive to enjoy life can become a challenge for Sevens, as its thinking pattern combines quick mental processing with a high need for mental stimulation. They want options and hate feeling that their choices are being limited or that they are being constrained in some way, which could be how an unhealthy Seven interprets a structured recovery program.
8. The Challenger
Strength: Eights can be powerful and effective leaders who use their abilities and control with intentions to seek justice and protection for the weak. This desire to finally regain control over themselves can be the make-or-break factor when an Eight is deciding whether or not to seek treatment for substance abuse.
Challenge: In order for an Eight to break their denial and take back control over their body from the disease of addiction, they must first be willing to process trauma, suppressed issues, and other emotional concepts. This can be a difficult burden to release: “As they want to avoid feeling or showing weakness, Eights use denial as a defense mechanism…Some Eights are aware of when these feelings are occurring, but will very rarely choose to show these feelings to others.”
9. The Peacemaker
Strength: Since Nines strive for harmony in all aspects of life, some of their core qualities are peaceful existence, stability, and self-awareness. When in the recovery process, it can be very useful to see the big picture in order to consider both ends of your recovery road.
Challenge: Nines’ personal goals can get lost when all of their energy and attention is going into keeping “the peace,” which ironically creates conflict. “This stems from a pattern of going along to get along with others and the eventual discomfort that arises when this strategy is not satisfying.” Essentially, Nines should be cautious when evaluating their intentions behind actions like substance abuse and recovery to make certain they’re motivated for how this action will affect themselves and those they love.
Using Your Type as a Starting Point for Self-Discovery
It’s important to note that the types are arranged in a circle—not a triangle or list. Each type has both strengths and challenges, so there is no ranking or comparison between them.
Everyone experiences recovery in a personal way. Learning about your type is not meant to be a list of instructions or a map to self-discovery, but you can use a test like this as a tool or starting place for that process.
Note: This article merely skims the immense Enneagram world—the interpretation interacts with the Integrative Enneagram Solutions type descriptions—and that while wings could certainly also be applied, they’re not addressed here for the sake of brevity.