The Relationship Between Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Addiction

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Last Updated on May 24, 2021 by

BPD, or borderline personality disorder, is a debilitating disorder that is frequently misrepresented in popular culture and misunderstood by the general public. A basic symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder distorts the self-perception of a person and makes it difficult for them to maintain healthy relationships in all aspects of life. BPD patients are stereotyped as manipulative, reliant, and dramatic, but mental health practitioners recognize that this behavior is a dysfunctional response to excessive anxiety and emotional pain.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include comfort, mental distress, and impulsive actions, putting these people at risk of substance abuse.

The link between BPD and addiction is very turbulent. Drug and alcohol abuse exacerbates some of the most dangerous symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, including rage and depression, and the fear of abandonment can make BPD patients more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to ease the pain.

To cope with a profound sense of mental emptiness, they often engage in self-injurious behavior, e.g cutting themselves. They’re also more likely to try suicide, mainly if they use drugs. Having clinical support if you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and addiction could save your life.

What Are the Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder?

While the cause of BPD is unclear, according to the Mayo Clinic, this complex personality disorder has been described in various ways:

  • A Family Is in A State of Disrepair. Adults with BPD are more likely to have grown up in homes where they felt emotionally abused or abandoned. Borderline personality disorder can be worsened by physical or sexual assault trauma.
  • The Factors that Run in Families. There may be a genetic predisposition to BPD in some people, as some people suffer from BPD and other personality disorders in their near families.
  • Factors Related to The Brain. There are abnormalities in the brain’s mood, behavior, and emotion regulation regions that can trigger BPD’s impulsivity, emotional distress, and erratic behavior.
  • The Brain’s Chemistry. BPD is often caused by an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring chemicals like serotonin that affect the way you feel and act. These chemicals may not be processed typically in people with BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is associated with many neurological and environmental factors, including substance abuse. In many cases, people who suffer from alcohol addiction or drug addiction have come from homes where heavy drinking or drug using was prevalent, and this alone may lead to trauma for children.

Neuropharmacology reports that brain’s structure and function are linked to addiction.

Substance abuse does not cause borderline personality disorder, but it can aggravate it and speed up the disorder’s progression. This is particularly true when drug abuse happens during puberty, where borderline personality disorder is becoming prevalent.

Adolescent drug abuse puts teens at risk of being bullied and having their relationships destroyed. As a result, they could become estranged from their parents and peers. When a young person who has been through abuse cannot find a sense of safety, even at home, they are more likely to seek comfort in intimate relationships and are afraid of losing them. This trend has the potential to accelerate the onset of borderline personality disorder.

The Overlap Between BPD and Addiction

It can be challenging to diagnose borderline personality disorder (BPD) and addiction concurrently, due to the similarities between the symptoms of both conditions. When an individual exhibits antisocial and manipulative tendencies, the treatment can be particularly challenging.

The Overlap

  • Self-destructive, Impulsive habits describe both.
  • Mood fluctuations, ranging from extreme depression to psychotic periods of extreme intensity, can be seen in both.
  • Both can be distinguished by deceptive and manipulative conduct.
  • A lack of respect for one’s own health and safety can be described both as a lack of respect for one’s own life and as an insistence on partaking in risky activities despite the dangers.
  • A trend of uncertainty in relationships, employment, and finances is common in both cases.

Suicidal ideation, irritability, depression, and anxiety are all drug and alcohol abuse signs. This is why treating a Dual Diagnosis like this in a conventional treatment center is complicated. The facility will not accommodate BPD as a co-occurring disorder unless it provides individualized treatment plans for Dual Diagnosis patients.

The Symptoms and Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD signs are often confused with drug abuse symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. However, in the last 20 years, clinicians have made significant progress in identifying and diagnosing BPD and addiction.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder Include:

  • Emotional ups and downs
  • Anxiety or severe depression episodes
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Extreme shifts in others’ views
  • A feeling of unease
  • Experiencing fits of anger or violence
  • Intense fear of being alone due to a lack of or dysfunctional sense of self
  • Anorexia and bulimia are examples of eating disorders.
  • A sense of void
  • Conducts that are manipulative

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Integrating Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

According to estimates, 22 million Americans aged 12 and up are diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder each year, with alcohol abuse accounting for 80 percent. Cravings for dopamine trigger substance abuse, addiction, and dependency, which leads to impulsive behaviors to seek out narcotics. Binge drinking and heroin injection are not predetermined activities but rather dysfunctional coping strategies marked by impulsive behaviors to cope with underlying life challenges.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

It is notoriously difficult to treat borderline personality disorder. It is important for clients with BPD needs to communicate with their treatment team on a regular basis. as they can place unreasonable demands on their therapists. That is why they need to communicate with them regularly. Because of their predisposition to seek out caregivers who can meet their emotional needs, they may seem vulnerable and dependent.

Individuals with BPD can turn against their caregivers, becoming aggressive and paranoid for no apparent cause, making treatment more difficult. Professionals treating borderline personality disorder must understand this severe psychological condition’s emotional landscape. Adding to the difficulties, individuals with BPD may turn against their providers, becoming antagonistic and paranoid for no apparent reason. Professionals who treat borderline personality disorder must have a thorough understanding of the emotional climate that surrounds this severe mental health condition.

DBT, or dialetic behavior therapy is one of the most common form of therapies for BPD and substance abuse. DBT is a treatment that helps people with severe mental illnesses live happier, healthier lives by balancing change with self-acceptance. DBT effectively helps self-destructive, emotionally distressed patients learn how to manage their emotions and motivate themselves to change, even in the most difficult situations.

According to Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, the Therapeutic Goals of Dual Diagnosis Treatment for DBT Are as Follows:

  • Assisting the client in finding the inspiration to make significant life changes
  • Using practical skills such as mindfulness training to teach the individual how to control their moods and handle triggers.
  • Taking away the environmental and social signals that encourage drug abuse.
  • Reducing a person’s desire to drink or use drugs
  • Identifying and engaging in meaningful, self-affirming behaviors that foster a sense of community
  • Assisting the client in setting and achieving manageable treatment goals, such as remaining sober for 24 hours at a time

Clients who undergo integrated care attend relapse prevention courses and rehabilitation sessions in addition to individual psychotherapy for BPD. In Dual Diagnosis rehab where relapse rates are strong, relapse prevention training is critical. When dealing with BPD and addictions, clients are often offered groups in which they can share coping mechanisms and address the challenges of co-occurring conditions.

When you have a personality disorder like BPD that affects your interpersonal relationships and emotions, psychotherapy and counseling are not always enough.

Drugs for addiction as well as those used for mental illness can also be effective treatment tools when integrated into an overall treatment approach. If a patient is suffering from BPD, medication that is designed to restore neurotransmitter balance may be beneficial (this would include antidepressants of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class). Additionally, anti-addiction medications such as Suboxone and Naltrexone can also be found to help minimize withdrawal symptoms in addition to reducing the desire for alcohol and opioid drugs.

Addiction and BPD can be treated together in rehabilitation centers that provide dual diagnosis care for their patients. These services makes both psychotherapy and drug abuse treatment available for patients. They are offered various forms of therapy at the rehab center, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help them understand the thinking patterns that contribute to their impulsive behavior. Patients who go through cognitive behavioral therapy can control their emotions better and are definitely not likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Co-occuring drug abuse is controlled with the assistance of a physician who monitors the patient’s withdrawal.

There Is Help for You

Call us today at 615-490-9376 If you or someone close to you suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), as well as a drug or alcohol addiction. We have expert clinicians on board who can help the client sort through all conditions and provide integrated treatment. We offer the very best care to those who need it the most. We have specialized in Dual Diagnosis service for patients suffering from borderline personality disorder.