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Dealing with Borderline Personality and Addiction

Borderline personality disorder is 'highly comorbid' with substance abuse problems (Source: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry).  If you have this condition and are struggling with an addiction problem as well, this is referred to as a dual diagnosis. In order to manage co-occurring conditions such as this, it is usually necessary to choose a rehab that offers dual diagnosis treatment.

What is Borderline Personality?

Borderline personality is a type of personality disorder that is characterised by poor impulse control, self-harming behaviour, and difficulty maintaining relationships. It is fairly common for people who have this condition to also experience episodes of other types of mental illness (for example, depression), and this is where the name 'borderline' comes from (it is as if it is on the border of lots of different conditions). If you have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the likelihood is that you have problems with emotions, your self-image, and developing relationships with others.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality
  • A history of intense relationships that ended up badly
  • self-harming actions such as cutting
  • suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • extreme reactions to even minor negative events
  • an unstable self-image
  • intense moods that can last for hours or days
  • paranoid thoughts
  • dissociative symptoms (as if you are looking at yourself as an outsider)
  • inappropriate episodes of anger
  • easily bored
  • a feeling that life lacks meaning
  • impulsive behaviour
  • substance abuse
  • preoccupation with the idea that others are going to abandon you.
What is the Cause of Borderline Personality?

It is not fully understood why some people develop borderline personality disorder. It is most likely due to a combination of factors including genetics, environmental factors (for example, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse in childhood), and abnormalities in the brain. In other words, some people may be born with a genetic predisposition towards this type of condition, and it occurs because it is triggered by external events such as trauma.

Borderline Personality and Addiction

It is estimated that over 70 per cent of those with borderline personality disorder will engage in some form of substance abuse. This is usually done as a type of self-medication in order to deal with unpleasant emotions and problems with relationships. People with this disorder also tend to be impulsive and prone to self-harming behaviours, which puts them at high risk of developing an addiction problem.

When individuals first start using alcohol or drugs, it can feel as if it is making things better for them; this can be particularly true for those dealing with the symptoms of borderline personality. The problem is that this behaviour is actually making things much worse. In order to keep benefiting from these mind-altering substances, you have to keep using more and more - the more you do this, the more negative effects there will be. There is also the problem that these chemicals actually worsen the symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis Involving

The treatment required for dealing with dual diagnosis will always depend on the severity of the condition. Some people do well with just therapy sessions in which they can pick up tools for dealing with negative emotions and unhelpful patterns. Approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness therapy can also be helpful. In some instances, it will be necessary to use medications to treat the condition.

If you are dealing with a dual diagnosis along with an addiction problem, it is important to get both of these managed together. This is because failure to treat the borderline personality disorder can prevent you from building a strong sobriety. It can also be incredibly hard to treat this type of personality disorder if you are still abusing alcohol or drugs.

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