Personality Disorders and substance abuse

Personality disorders are some of the most intense and disorienting conditions for a person and those around them. These disorders can completely change how a person acts and behaves. They can cause stressful situations that can lead to broken relationships and emotional issues. Many of these require professional help from personality disorder treatment centers. 

There are many different groups and types of personality disorders. Each of them has its symptoms and causes unique behavioral changes over time. Sometimes, these disorders become so hard to deal with that a person may turn to substances like alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, there is a strong connection between personality disorders and substance abuse. 

It’s important to know that you are not alone in your struggles. Reaching out for help is always an option and our wonderful staff at Harmony Ridge is ready to help. You don’t have to go through this alone, don’t be afraid to ask for help when the time comes. 

A Look at Personality Disorders

Personality disorders occur when someone experiences impairment within themselves and their interpersonal functions. These traits can have a number of negative effects and symptoms on a person and their relationships with others. With this in mind, certain symptoms must be present for a stable amount of time for it to be considered a personality disorder. 

These symptoms and changes must not be caused by the person’s living environments or natural changes in their mind or body. Additionally, personality disorders and not caused directly by substance abuse or addiction. There are currently 10 different personality disorder types, all separated into three distinct groups (clusters A, B, and C). In each cluster, you can see similarities between the disorders and their symptoms. 

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A disorders focus on a distorted sense of reality and others around them. These disorders are paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal disorder.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder occurs when someone has an intense distrust of others (this can include relatives and close friends). A person with a paranoid personality disorder may be suspicious of those around them while having a distorted view of their experiences. They may think they are in danger or may interpret people or situations with suspicion and paranoia. 

Schizoid Personality Disorder

A person with schizoid personality disorder (SPD) sees no interest in socializing with anyone or growing intimate with others. The person may have a tough time connecting with people, even close family or friends. A person with SPD is typically detached from the world and only focused on being alone. They often avoid social interactions all together and prefer to be alone. 

Schizotypal Disorder

Someone with a schizotypal disorder has strange perceptions of regular experiences and interactions. Their speech may be eccentric and they may act paranoid when interacting with others. Obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and unusual beliefs are all symptoms of a schizotypal disorder. People struggling with this disorder may also feel fear when meeting new people. 

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B personality disorders exhibit their own symptoms centered around personal identity and relationships with others. These include borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a condition that affects how a person sees themselves and others. They may have trouble managing their behavior and emotions. Oftentimes the person may be in and out of unstable and abusive relationships. This behavior also includes frequent mood swings, impulsive behavior, and inappropriate anger. 

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most widely known disorders in this cluster. A person with an antisocial personality disorder feels virtually no empathy or regard for other people’s feelings. This particular disorder tends to impact men more than women. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to act aggressively and feel no guilt or remorse for their actions. There is also a connection between people with antisocial personality disorders and criminal activity. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with narcissistic personality disorder have an inflated sense of self-worth and importance. They believe they are entitled to other people’s admiration and praise. People with this disorder tend to lie and feel little empathy for others. They may deceive others to get what they want. There is a deep sense of envy among people with this disorder, which further affects their relationships. 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

A histrionic personality disorder is similar to narcissistic personality disorder. People struggling with this disorder need to have the attention and approval of those around them (for their wellbeing). They may obsess over this goal and may act in risky ways to achieve it (constant sexual ventures, and at risk of being manipulated or exploited). Additionally, people with this disorder don’t take kindly to criticism. 

Cluster C Personality Disorders

The final cluster looks at personality disorders that focus heavily on dependency or avoidance. Cluster C includes dependent personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and anankastic (obsessive-compulsive) personality disorder.

Dependent Personality Disorder 

People with this disorder have a constant need to depend on and be cared for by another person. At times, they don’t even make their own decisions. A person may feel an immense fear of abandonment and may feel that they’re inadequate. They may begin to lose a sense of personality and motivation. 

What’s interesting to note is that people with dependent personality disorders may gravitate towards people with cluster B disorders. This is due to the appraise and approval that people with dependent personality disorders give to them. People with a dependent personality disorder may seem childlike and completely helpless in some cases. 

Avoidant Personality Disorder

This is the counterpart of dependent personality disorder. People dealing with avoidant personality disorder have a genuine fear of rejection and embarrassment. They feel they are socially awkward and that they are unwanted. They may be afraid of meeting new people and may have difficulty engaging in social settings due to their insecurities and beliefs. 

Anankastic Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Anankastic personality disorder is also referred to as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. When a person struggles with this condition, they often obsess about perfectionism (to a level that interferes with their daily life). A person may be completely occupied with lists, organizations, order, and details. 

This disorder can cause multiple issues for the person and their relationships. This obsession over details and perfection stems from the person’s belief that they have no control over the world around them. This can lead to a constant control over others, fear of improvising, or taking risks. This can cause a number of problems for the people around them. 

Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse

When someone is struggling with a mental illness and a drug addiction, they have what’s known as co-occurring disorders. In many cases, this sort of situation requires intensive care to treat. During recovery, both the mental illness (in this case, a personality disorder) and the addiction are treated separately. Co-occurring disorders can begin to cause a number of negative consequences if left untreated. 

Unfortunately, there seems to be a common trend between personality disorders and substance abuse. Many people may not be able to deal with the stresses of their personality disorder and they eventually turn to drugs to cope with it. Some people may see this option as a way to self-medicate. However, the situation only gets worse when drug addiction is introduced. 

On the other side of the spectrum, there is a correlation between addiction and personality disorders. Many times a person struggling with drug addiction can develop a form of dependence, which can be seen as a borderline personality disorder. Other personality disorders have been seen emerging from drug addiction. 

Spotting a Co-occurring Disorder

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a possible co-occurring disorder. Both conditions can begin to feed off each other and worsen over time if left untreated. While many different drugs and mental illnesses have unique symptoms, there are some common telling signs that indicate a co-occurring disorder. Common signs of a co-occurring disorder include:

  • Financial problems
  • Difficulty maintaining employment
  • Relationship problems (failing to maintain functional relationships)
  • Legal issues and problems with the law
  • Intense mood swings and lack of emotional control 
  • Change in behavior and physical appearance
  • Health issues (withdrawal symptoms)

If you notice any of these signs in a loved one or someone you know, it may be time to get help. Harmony Ridge and our trusted staff can help you get to a healthier and brighter future. Don’t hesitate to act as things can only get worse if you do nothing. 

Treating Co-occurring Disorders

Personality disorder treatment centers and addiction rehab can be utilized for recovery. There are a number of different treatment options that can be used to treat both a personality disorder and an addiction. Most of the time a residential program (inpatient treatment) is recommended. This way, you’re able to have access to help at all hours of the day. Co-occurring disorders are also more severe, which is another need for intensive treatment. 

Treatment for co-occurring disorders for personality disorders and substance abuse include a mix of medication, therapy, and detoxification, among others. It’s important to keep in mind that patience and support are crucial for long-term recovery. Let’s take a look at common treatment options for personality disorders and substance abuse: 

  • Dialectical behavior therapy: DBT helps people come to terms with their emotions and teaches them social strategies. A big part of DBT is accepting your situation and understanding those around you as well. 
  • Medication assistance: Medication can be used to help with symptoms like anxiety and depression. There are no real approved options directly for personality disorders, only their symptoms (and more commonly, substance withdrawals).
  • Group therapy: Group therapy is a great way to share your story while bonding with others in the same situation. Sharing your story and learning about other people’s stories can be extremely beneficial for recovery.
  • Detoxification: Detox is predominantly for drug addiction. Before moving onto therapy or other treatment options, detox rids the body of all substances and alcohol. This is usually the first step to any recovery treatment and opens the door for other treatment options. 

Get Help Today

Personality disorders and substance abuse can both be very stressful situations. At Harmony Ridge, we understand the importance of quality treatment. We believe you and your loved ones deserve a better and happier life. Contact us today to learn about all our treatment options or if you have any questions.