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Personality Disorder and Addiction



Personality disorders are mental health issues that cause people to experience abnormal personality traits. 

Mental health professionals diagnose these disorders based on criteria, but it can be difficult to tell if someone has one. 

For example, if you have an addiction problem, many causes for substance abuse don’t involve any mental illness. 

Therefore, it’s important not to jump to conclusions about whether or not addiction and personality disorders go hand-in-hand unless you have the facts about both conditions and how they manifest themselves in human behavior.

In this article, we will discuss the relationship between personality disorder and addiction to help guide you toward a more accurate diagnosis of your own or someone else’s problems with substance abuse or behavioral issues:


Table of Contents

People with personality disorders are likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) as well

People with personality disorders are more likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD). 

A diagnosis of a SUD often follows a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. 

This is not surprising, since many symptoms of BPD are similar to those found in individuals diagnosed with drug and alcohol use disorders.

People who suffer from both BPD and SUD will usually experience more severe problems than those suffering from either condition individually. 

They may need treatment for both disorders if they want to achieve real improvement in their lives, improve their relationships, and have the best chance at recovery from addiction.

Treating mood disorders like depression can be very helpful when treating people with BPD because it can help reduce impulsivity and risky behavior associated with the disorder. 

Similarly, treating drug or alcohol dependence may be necessary for the successful treatment of BPD because these substances can cause extreme mood swings that trigger impulsive behaviors characteristic of BPD.


What is Personality Disorder?

You may have heard of the term personality disorder. People with these disorders have long-lasting, challenging, and pervasive ways of thinking and behaving that cause problems in their daily lives. 

The symptoms result in significant distress or impairment in functioning.

Substance abuse, a medical condition, or bad parenting do not cause personality disorders. 

If you have a personality disorder, it began before age 18 and there are at least three of seven possible symptoms you’ve had for at least a year. Many people with personality disorders also suffer from additional mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.


Types of Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses. They’re characterized by patterns of behavior that make it difficult for someone to function in everyday life. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are 10 personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): avoidant, borderline, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid, schizoid, histrionic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders.


The different types of personality disorders have specific characteristics in common — such as excessive worrying or extreme mood swings — but each has its unique set of traits specific to its diagnosis. Generally speaking:

  • Antisocial personalities are more likely than other types of people with PDs to engage in destructive or criminal behaviors; they may also find it difficult to control their anger or impulses toward violence. They tend not to be able to feel empathy towards others while taking advantage of them without remorse.
  • Borderline personalities are generally emotionally unstable with an intense fear of abandonment; they often have impulsive behavior which can lead to suicide attempts or self-harming behaviors like cutting themselves on purpose.


1. Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions. 

A person with BPD has an unstable sense of self and tends to view themselves as fundamentally flawed, leading to difficulty forming meaningful relationships. 

It can also be hard for someone with BPD to control or express emotions appropriately in social situations.

In addition to having a personality disorder, many people with BPD also struggle with substance use problems

—but it’s important not to jump to conclusions about one condition being the root cause of another when trying to make sense of your mental health challenges. 

For example: if your loved one has been diagnosed with both BPD and addiction, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one condition caused the other; instead, these two conditions might share common risk factors or symptoms that lead clinicians down this diagnostic path together.


2. Schizotypal Personality Disorder

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder, it’s vital to understand how the condition affects them and what can be done. 

Here are some facts about this illness:

  • Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder include bizarre beliefs, odd speech patterns, and unusual behavior.
  • The causes of Schizotypal Personality Disorder are still unknown, but researchers believe it may be linked to genetics or an imbalance in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).


3. Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is characterized by extremely withdrawn behavior, avoidance of social relationships, and a lack of desire for intimacy. 

People with SZPD tend to be introverted and detached from others. They may appear cold or aloof because they prefer solitary activities over socializing with other people.

People with SZPD often have limited activity outside the home and may stay in their room alone for hours on end instead of interacting with people in the house or elsewhere; they also don’t like being around large crowds of strangers.


4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has a pathological need for attention, admiration, and recognition. 

This may appear as excessive boasting about their accomplishments, which can be exaggerated or even fabricated. 

They also tend to monopolize conversations, belittle others and expect constant praise from people around them. 

A person with this disorder is usually very sensitive to criticism and will usually react with rage or shame in response to any failure or negative feedback from others. 

If you feel your partner always needs to take center stage and be the center of attention, he or she may have NPD traits.

People who have this condition are often referred to as “narcissists” because they have an inflated sense of self-importance combined with a lack of empathy for other people’s feelings or opinions

—two common characteristics that define narcissism in general.


5. Antisocial Personality Disorder

People with Antisocial Personality Disorder are manipulative, deceitful, impulsive, and irresponsible. 

They have no regard for the feelings of others; they are often in trouble with the law and unable to hold down a job. 

People with antisocial personality disorder don’t care about long-term consequences because they live in the moment.

Anti-social personalities often drink alcohol or use drugs to excess as a way of escaping from their inability to connect with other people on an emotional level. 

They may also engage in antisocial behavior when influenced by these substances.


6. Paranoid Personality Disorder

You may be wondering what the relationship is between personality disorders and addiction. They’re closely related. 

For example, someone with a paranoid personality disorder may become addicted to drugs because they want to control their surroundings and feel in control of their life. 

As you can see, this is very similar to what happens when an addict develops an addiction—they use drugs because they think it will help them feel more in control of themselves and have better relationships with others.

However, there are some critical differences between those who develop addictions as a result of having a personality disorder compared to those who develop habits due to other causes:

  • Those who have developed an addiction because of a personality disorder tend to have more severe withdrawal symptoms than those who don’t have any mental illnesses at all (e.g., depression). This means that getting clean from drugs will be much more difficult for them than it would be for other people!


It is vitally important to receive treatment for addiction and co-occurring personality disorders

If you have a personality disorder, chances are that you also have an addiction. It is vitally important to receive treatment for addiction and co-occurring personality disorders.

While some people who suffer from addiction do not have any underlying mental health issues, most of those who do struggle with co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression. 

For most people, recovery from one means they can manage their other conditions more effectively. 

However, if you have a personality disorder and an addiction and seek help for either problem alone (without treating the other) then there will be a greater likelihood that neither condition will improve sufficiently – or they may worsen over time!

Treating both simultaneously requires more time and energy than treating either individually because each requires different strategies to uncover what is causing them, but this extra effort has great rewards: better quality of life now as well as long-term benefits towards achieving your goals later on down the road!



If you feel like you might have a co-occurring disorder, it is important to get help as soon as possible. 

The sooner that treatment begins, the better off your life will be.

One way to start seeking out treatment options is by contacting a medical professional who specializes in treating both addiction and personality disorders—they can refer you to an appropriate facility or program. 

If this isn’t an option for some reason (such as financial reasons), there are still many resources available online and even through social media channels like Reddit!


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