Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) & Substance Abuse
Many people who have a substance use disorder also have one or more mental health disorders. When an individual has two or more simultaneous conditions it is called co-occurring disorders. While any mental health disorder can co-occur with addiction, one of the more commonly diagnosed conditions is borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Our guide will help you to understand borderline personality disorder and addiction, how to help someone with BPD and addiction, and treatment options for co-occurring disorders.
What Is a Personality Disorder?
A personality disorder is a type of mental health condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Often these disorders involve distorted and sometimes rigid ways of thinking, atypical behavior patterns, and emotional dysregulation. They can be disruptive to a person’s day-to-day life, relationships, and physical and emotional health.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are 10 types of personality disorders. These include:
- Antisocial personality disorder.
- Avoidant personality disorder.
- Borderline personality disorder.
- Dependent personality disorder.
- Histrionic personality disorder.
- Narcissistic personality disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
- Paranoid personality disorder.
- Schizoid personality disorder.
- Schizotypal personality disorder.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by difficulty regulating intense feelings that are felt for extended periods of time. For individuals with BPD it can be difficult to find an emotional “baseline,” which can result in poor self-image, difficult interpersonal relationships, and impulsive, sometimes dangerous behavior.
Although the formal diagnosis can only be made by a licensed mental health clinician, the diagnostic criteria to make this diagnosis cover numerous issues that the person expresses, including:
- A very unstable concept of oneself
- Chronic issues with feeling empty or with boredom
- Significant tendencies toward impulsive behaviors that can include issues with substance abuse and other problems
- A significant feeling of loneliness or fear of being abandoned
- Displaying very reactive states of mood, such as being very irritable, anxious, angry, happy, content, etc., and having significant alternating periods of mood states
- Recurrent outbursts of anger/aggression that are often inappropriate
- Alternating between totally idolizing others and then totally devaluing them (formerly referred to as splitting)
- Repeated issues with suicidality, including threats or actual suicide attempts
- Other repeated issues with self-harm, such as self-mutilation
- Issues with potential psychotic-like behaviors or dissociative experiences that can include delusions, hallucinations, idiosyncratic interpretations of the behavior of others, feeling detached from oneself or from reality, etc.
Borderline Personality Disorder and Drug or Alcohol Addiction
The need for an individual with borderline personality disorder to attempt to control their unstable emotional reactions, volatile feelings, and chronic feelings of boredom and emptiness, along with their tendency to be extremely impulsive, results in a very large number of these individuals having some issue with substance abuse.
How Common is Co-Occurring BPD and Substance Abuse?
Some studies have suggested that more than half of individuals diagnosed with BPD have some form of a substance abuse issue. Thus, whenever an individual is considered for a diagnosis of BPD, they should also be fully examined for a potential issue with substance abuse. People who have a diagnosis of BPD and depression or another personality disorder are at an increased risk for substance abuse.
Does BPD Cause Substance Use Disorder?
BPD does not cause substance use disorder. However, substance use disorder is a common co-occurring condition among individuals who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
The most commonly occurring substance use disorder that occurs in individuals with BPD is an alcohol use disorder; however, any co-occurring substance abuse should not be ruled out. Individuals with BPD are prone to using and abusing prescription drugs like opiates and benzodiazepines, stimulant drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, cannabis products, and other types of substances.
Risk Factors for Co-Occurring BPD and Addiction.
According to APA, risk factors associated with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder include:
- A family history of BPD, particularly in first-degree relatives.
- A family history of some other psychiatric/psychological disorder.
- Potential neurological alternations that result in problems with emotional regulation and impulse control.
- A history of trauma or abuse.
- A history of unstable relationships with one’s parents.
Individuals diagnosed with BPD are extremely vulnerable to other types of comorbid (co-occurring) mental health disorders.
- BPD is commonly associated with having a diagnosis of depression (major depressive disorder).
- BPD is commonly associated with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
- BPD is very often associated with a diagnosis of any of the other personality disorders.
- Trauma and stressful experiences are risk factors for BPD. This results in a diagnosis of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, such as PTSD, being commonly diagnosed with BPD.
- Individuals with BPD are commonly diagnosed with some type of eating disorder.
- Individuals with BPD commonly have a formal diagnosis of a substance use disorder.
Treatment for Co-Occurring BPD and Substance Use Disorder
BPD and addiction can take a heavy toll on your life. But there is help to effectively manage co-occurring borderline personality disorder and addiction. Oxford Treatment Center in Etta, MS offers effective co-occurring disorder treatment to help people manage their mental health and substance use disorders and find hope and healing in a life of recovery. Our drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi has multiple levels of care to help meet whatever need you may have.
If you or someone you love is struggling with co-occurring disorders, call our admission navigators at our inpatient rehab facility in Mississippi at . They are on hand to answer your questions about our treatment options — including our outpatient addiction treatment in Mississippi — handling the cost of rehab, and the admissions process. They can even help you make travel arrangements to our center.
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