Borderline Personality Disorder and Drug or Alcohol Abuse
Borderline personality disorder is often referred to as BPD. It is a debilitating condition that distorts the sufferer’s perception of him or her self. It also makes it very difficult to maintain close relationships; whether they are romantic relationships, friendships, or relationships with family members. It’s very common for borderline personality disorder and addiction to present at the same time, and when this occurs, it can lead to a great deal of problems. Borderline personality disorder causes a lot of pain, both in the lives of those who have it, and for those who have loved ones who suffer from it.
It’s also possible that you’ve gotten a diagnosis for borderline personality disorder in the past, but because of your addiction, you haven’t been able to get the right kind of treatment that could help you with your recovery.
Maybe you have questioned whether or not you have borderline personality disorder, and you also have an addiction to either drugs or alcohol. It’s also possible that you’ve gotten a diagnosis for borderline personality disorder in the past, but because of your addiction, you haven’t been able to get the right kind of treatment that could help you with your recovery. First of all, it’s important for you to understand that you’re not alone. There are many people who are also suffering with these co-occurring disorders, and like you, they weren’t sure where they could find the type of help that would lead to recovery. It can put your mind at ease to learn more about borderline personality disorder, what it is, what causes it, and how you can get help if you are also battling an addiction.
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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder is probably one of the most misunderstood psychiatric conditions in the United States. People who have borderline personality disorder are viewed as being manipulative individuals who are highly dependent and overly dramatic. These characteristics alone make it hard for them to form and keep meaningful relationships with the people in their lives. Even so, those who work with people who have borderline personality disorder understand that there are reasons behind their irrational behaviors.
Behind their actions lies a great deal of fear and emotional pain. The behaviors they exhibit are there simply because they are a way to cope with the pain they feel. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, someone who has borderline personality disorder may go through episodes of being depressed, angry or anxious, and these episodes can last for anywhere from a few hours to several days. They are also at a high risk of having other disorders such as:
- Addiction disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood disorders
When someone suffers from borderline personality disorder, his or her moods can shift very quickly. They may experience confusion about who they are, and it may be difficult for family members to converse with them because of this confusion. It’s also possible to see dramatic shifts in interests and values.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Researchers are still relatively unclear about what causes borderline personality disorder to occur. However, there are several theories that may shed some light on its origin.
Someone may develop borderline personality disorder when:
- There is a history of a dysfunctional family environment. For example, when a child grows up in a home where he feels neglected, he is much more likely to develop borderline personality disorder as an adult.
- There is a family history of borderline personality disorder. BPD is more often diagnosed when close relatives have also been diagnosed, such as parents or siblings.
- There have been significant changes in the brain that have led to changes in mood and behaviors. These neurological factors are still being studied.
- There is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This might include dopamine and serotonin changes in the brain. People who have BPD are not able to process them normally, according to Neuropharmacology.
- Addicted to drugs or alcohol. While most of the time, it is believed that addiction comes secondary to BPD, the changes that occur in brain chemicals when drinking alcohol or using drugs are capable of resulting in this condition.
Regardless of the cause behind borderline personality disorder, this condition can have a dramatic impact on one’s sense of well-being. Also, it’s also much more common for someone who has BPD to suffer from addiction, and even commit suicide than someone who does not have BPD.
How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Affect the Mind and Body?
When an individual suffers from borderline personality disorder, the effects that it can have on both the mind and the body are quite profound. This is especially true in someone who has suffered from this condition for quite some time, and who has either not gotten treatment for it, or who has not reported any symptoms. It is possible for BPD to damage every aspect of a person’s life; including their relationships with other people, their potential for employment, their social activities and their own self-image.
Some of the common effects of borderline personality disorder include:
- Not being able to hold down a steady job
- A loss of income
- Broken marriages and the destruction of other meaningful relationships
- Behaviors that are self-harming
- Frequent injuries to themselves
- Additional mental health problems and disorders
- Risky behaviors that can result in STDs or unplanned pregnancies
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Some mental illnesses can lead to physical ailments, such as heart disease and ulcers. There is no definitive link between these types of diseases and borderline personality disorder. However, the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease and the risk of suicide are very high. When BPD is combined with addiction, the risk is even more substantial.
What are Some Signs You May Have Borderline Personality Disorder?
It’s possible that you feel as though you might have borderline personality disorder, but because you’ve never talked with a professional about your symptoms, you’re just not sure. It’s important to get a professional diagnosis so that you can get the right kind of treatment. However, there are some signs and symptoms you can look for within yourself to help you determine whether or not you need to seriously consider getting help. These include:
- Feeling as though you’re going to be abandoned and trying hard to escape it
- Having unstable relationships with people who are close to you
- Experiencing mood swings regarding your relationships with others
- Having a distorted image of yourself
- Participating in impulsive or reckless behaviors that are often unsafe or dangerous
- Continual suicidal thoughts
- Frequent bouts of threatening to hurt yourself
- Intense mood changes with each episode lasting up to a few days
- Feeling chronically empty inside
- Inappropriate displays of intense anger
- Having paranoid thoughts that are related to stress
- Feeling as though you’re losing touch with reality
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, and if you are also struggling with an addiction, you most likely do have borderline personality disorder. However, it’s important to get a professional diagnosis so that you can get the kind of help you need.
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How are Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction Often Combined?
As many as two out of three people who have borderline personality disorder also have abused either drugs or alcohol at some point during the course of their lives. Borderline personality disorder and addiction are often linked to each other because sufferers will use substances as a way to cope with how they feel. The emptiness they feel inside causes them to look for ways to make improvements, which is where drugs or alcohol come into play. Actually, it can be difficult to produce an accurate diagnosis in someone who has borderline personality disorder and an addiction because there are so many similarities between the two conditions’ symptoms.
One of the reasons why borderline personality disorder and addictions are often linked to each other may be because of the changes that occur with chemical imbalances in those who have BPD. Because their brains are not able to adequately regulate chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, drugs and alcohol are used as a way to help with this process. The problem is that using substances when you have borderline personality disorder only serves to make your condition much worse.
If you have borderline personality disorder, you most likely turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with your symptoms. While doing so might help with your symptoms on a temporary basis, it does not do anything to help you feel better long-term. Eventually the consequences of addiction will cause other problems for you, but getting the right kind of treatment can help.
Can Dual Diagnosis Treatment Help with BPD and Addiction?
Dual diagnosis treatment has been shown to help patients who are dealing with all kinds of mental illnesses and addictions. This is referred to as having co-occurring disorders, and while there was a time when mental illnesses and addictions were always treated separately, this is not the case any longer. In fact, now more than ever, researchers understand the importance of treating them at the same time. This allows for staff members to intertwine the types of therapy they provide so that they complement each other, rather than working against each other.
For example, someone who needs treatment for BPD and addiction might experience the following in dual diagnosis treatment:
- A complete and proper diagnosis to ensure that proper treatment is received
- A treatment plan that is designed to meet his or her unique needs
- Individual therapy sessions to address the source of the addiction
- Group therapy sessions to provide peer counseling opportunities
- Medication adjustment therapy, as long as the medication is not contributing to the addiction
- Family therapy as a way to inform and educate the family and rebuild broken relationships
Studies have shown that without addressing the source of the addiction, long-term recovery is not as likely to happen. This is what makes dual diagnosis treatment so different, and so beneficial for those who suffer with borderline personality disorder.
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Getting Help from Northpoint Recovery for Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder
It’s possible that you’ve realized that it’s very likely that you have borderline personality disorder, and you need to get the right kind of help because you also have an addiction. Whether you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, choosing dual diagnosis treatment is the right solution for your long-term recovery needs. Your diagnosis of borderline personality disorder can easily take over your life, and when you factor in the risks that are associated with having an addiction at the same time, it’s clear that something needs to change. Fortunately, the right kind of help is available to you.
At Northpoint Recovery, we’ve been able to assist a countless number of people who have come to us either with borderline personality disorder diagnoses, or suspicions that they had this condition. We understand what you’re going through, and we also understand the best way to treat it. If you’d like more information about how dual diagnosis treatment could help you overcome your addiction, and get help for BPD at the same time, we’d love to talk with you and give you a recommendation for treatment. Please contact us today.