It is not uncommon for people who struggle with drug addiction to struggle with another mental health problem at the same time. When this occurs it is known as a dual diagnosis: a diagnosis of two concurrent mental health problems. Many people who abuse drugs also suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders (including antisocial personality disorder). In some cases, the drug abuse comes first, then triggers a subsequent condition. In others, people with a mental health problem abuse drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Either way, it is important to treat both conditions in order to achieve full recovery. A dual diagnosis that is less familiar to many people is a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and drug addiction. This article will describe traits of both conditions and what treatments are available.
Antisocial Personality Disorder Definition
While many people have at least some familiarity with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, an antisocial personality disorder is less familiar. The overarching characteristic of this disorder is that the individual will put his or her needs ahead of the needs of the group at all times. While every person puts him or herself first some of the time, most of us will take a step back much of the time to benefit other people, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or just people on the street or in a store. When it comes to strangers, we might let someone ahead of us in line, give up a seat on a bus, or stop at a car accident. With our families and friends, we are even more altruistic. We comfort a crying friend, bring meals to a sick neighbor, and sacrifice our time and money for the people we love. People with antisocial personality disorder never do any of these things. Their behavior is completely self-centered. This can make them boring to be around because they are incapable of focusing on anyone else. In some cases, it can allow them to make choices that are harmful to others because they do not care about how their actions affect other people. Some symptoms of antisocial personality disorder that can be off-putting but relatively harmless include impulsiveness or failure to plan, a complete lack of empathy for others, or talking at length without listening. Antisocial personality disorder symptoms that can have more serious consequences include:
- Complete disregard for a sense of right or wrong
- A strong feeling of arrogance or superiority to others
- Risk-taking with no regard for the safety of self or others
- Abusive relationships
- Failure to learn from negative behaviors
- Repeated failure to fulfill work or financial obligations
- Irritability, aggression, or hostility
- Breaking the law with no remorse
- Lying regularly
- Exploiting other people
- Harming animals
Antisocial Personality Disorder and Drug Addiction
It is not uncommon for people with an antisocial personality disorder to fall into drug abuse and addiction. Because of their poor social skills and potentially off-putting behaviors, many people with antisocial personality disorder have trouble making friends and maintaining relationships. In fact, other people may shun them, leading to social isolation. Many people with antisocial personality disorder struggle in school, often failing their coursework. These feelings of academic failure and social isolation can lead to drug abuse and addiction in a number of ways. First, many people struggling with isolation and feelings of inadequacy turn to substance abuse. Second, people feeling cast out from society may look for other loners to bond with. When many people who feel that they are misfits or unwanted by others join together, they may band together over their negative perceptions, which can have unfortunate consequences. When many members of the group engage in negative behaviors, these behaviors can become normalized and accepted. One example of these behaviors is drug abuse. Hanging out with a group of people who use and abuse drugs can make drug abuse seem like an acceptable behavior, and it is easy to segue from drug abuse to addiction.
The combination of antisocial personality disorder and drug addiction is particularly fierce. Drug addiction can exacerbate antisocial behaviors, leading people with an antisocial personality disorder to behave in a more extreme manner than usual. For an individual who lacks interest in or empathy toward others, this can mean complete social isolation. For someone who tells lies regularly, drug abuse can lead to extremely manipulative behavior. For individuals who disregard the law under normal circumstance, drug abuse can easily lead to criminal activity, including violent crime. People with a dual diagnosis of drug addiction and antisocial personality disorder may end up in prison because of criminal acts they commit, perhaps as a direct result of their drug abuse.
Treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder and Drug Addiction
Because of the very nature of antisocial personality disorder, people with this disorder are unlikely to recognize that they have a problem or to seek help on their own. If you suspect that someone you know suffers from an antisocial personality disorder, you might organize an intervention led by a professional to encourage them to seek treatment. Other times, a criminal sentence may mandate treatment for both the antisocial personality disorder and the drug addiction. For people with a dual diagnosis, it is critical to treat both aspects of the diagnosis.
Treatment for antisocial personality disorder may include a combination of therapy and medication. While there is no specific medical treatment for antisocial personality disorder, medications are available for some of its symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or aggression. Psychotherapy may be useful for anger management or feelings of isolation. However, if the individual is unable to admit that they have a problem, the effectiveness of psychotherapy may be limited.
The most successful model for the treatment of drug addiction is treated in an inpatient rehab setting. At Blu By The Sea, we offer a holistic addiction treatment program designed to address all the physical and mental needs of patients struggling with drug addiction. Our trained medical professionals are ready to heal the body from the physical effects of drug addiction. Our chef will provide healthy meals designed to repair any nutritional imbalances sustained from substance abuse and nourish the body during recovery. Our location on the beach and our pleasant weather provide the ideal spot for engaging in exercise, whether that is walking, yoga, or working out in our gym. In terms of mental health, our therapists provide individual and group therapy to support patients during detox and recovery, and to provide the foundation for sober living after rehab is over. This includes therapy specifically targeted for antisocial personality disorder. While a dual diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and drug addiction is daunting, proper treatment provides the best hope for long-term success. If you or someone you love struggles with antisocial personality disorder and drug addiction, call Blu By The Sea today. Our staff is ready to help.