Today, it is not uncommon for an individual to be diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, also referred to as a dual diagnosis—a term for when someone experiences both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. SAMHSA estimates that 8.9 million Americans currently live with co-occurring disorders. Statistics show that individuals who suffer from substance abuse or addiction disorders are twice as likely to also experience a mental health disorder compared with those who do not abuse drugs or alcohol. Likewise, those who display symptoms of a mental health disorder are twice as likely to be living with a substance abuse disorder.

A personality disorder is characterized by fundamental differences between an individual and other people, primarily relating to how they experience emotions, think about problems, relate to others and interpret various situations. Personality disorders often co-occur with other conditions such as depression, but are most often associated with substance abuse. Let’s take a look at the top personality disorders that coexist with addiction.

Types of Personality Disorders

There are three primary types of personality disorders which are characterized by groups of symptoms.

Type A personality disorders relate to a person’s ability to relate to others, often leading that person to exhibit eccentric, paranoid or odd behaviors. For example, a paranoid personality disorder would lead a person to be disproportionately distrustful and suspicious of others. Other Type A disorders include paranoid, schizotypal or schizoid disorders.

Type B disorders occur when a person struggles to regulate their mood, often swinging rapidly between highs and lows. An example is borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by unstable moods, erratic relationships and sometimes, self-harm.

Finally, Type C disorders involve feelings of fear and anxiety which dominate a person’s life, usually causing an individual to become socially withdrawn. An example is avoidant personality disorder, which causes a person to avoid social interaction due to a crippling fear of rejection. Each of these categories are associated with an increased risk for simultaneous substance abuse disorders.

Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Anti-social personality disorder causes a noted lack of empathy in an individual for other people, making it very difficult for that person to recognize when they’ve hurt other people. These people often flout social expectations and break the law while pursuing their goals. This disorder is characterized by impulsive behavior, compulsive dishonesty, aggressive tendencies and an inability to adapt to social norms.

Borderline Personality Disorder

A person with this disorder has extreme difficulty in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with others. They are handicapped by their fear of abandonment and a volatile self-image. Often manifesting during adolescence, individuals will develop risky social strategies, characterized by unpredictable mood swings, deep feelings of loneliness, unstable aggression and chronic suicidal behaviors.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Individuals with dependent personality disorder experience deep fears of being abandoned. They continually assume submissive roles in their relationships and participate in dependent behaviors. Individuals often express negative thoughts, doubting their own competence to negotiate social situations. Common symptoms include an obsessive or clingy behavior, an inability to make decisions or accomplish tasks alone and a chronic feeling of helplessness.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is defined by an individual’s extremely inflated sense of self-worth. Most have a deep respect for their personal ability and experience deep distress when that confidence is not mirrored by those around them. Individuals will build an uber-confident persona to distract from their insecurities about their own self-worth. This elevated sense of importance can hinder relationships. Most display arrogant attitudes, expectations of special treatment and an obsession with being admired and complimented.

The Connection Between Personality Disorders and Addiction

Substance addictions are diagnosed in roughly 50% of individuals with personality disorders.

Treatment for personality disorders is especially difficult because an individual’s struggles are rooted in the way they interpret the world around them. Addressing these disorders can be even more complex when an individual also has a substance abuse disorder.

Most often, a personality disorder exists before an addiction. Most individuals begin patterns of substance abuse as a way to manage or mask the negative symptoms of their personality disorder. Many people discover that drugs and/or alcohol numb their internal emotional conflicts, loneliness and feelings of worthlessness. Addiction can begin quite effortlessly in most cases. Unfortunately, addiction only serves to exacerbate symptoms of personality disorders.

Blu By the Sea

If you or a loved one suffers from a personality disorder and addiction, it is never too late to seek help. In the past, substance abuse and personality disorders were treated separately, often with only short-term results, resulting in relapse. Today, mental health professionals realize the importance of an integrative treatment for both. Blu By the Sea is a dual diagnosis treatment program. Call us today to find out more about our rehabilitation programs.