In the United States, around 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a mental illness. Individuals suffering from a personality disorder make up a portion of this statistic. A large number of people in this group also have a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 50% of people wiTH a substance use disorder also develop a mental illness. Thus, personality disorders and substance abuse often manifest at the same time.
When this happens, it is known as a dual diagnosis, comorbidity, or co-occurring disorder. In general, it’s when two or more health disorders happen at the same time. Not every addiction treatment center specializes in co-occurring disorders, like Behavioral Health Centers. Understanding the danger of personality disorders and addiction can help you pick the right addiction treatment center in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
What Are Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse?
There are stigmas toward mental health and substance use disorders. Since it’s not visible, like a physical disability or broken arm, people dismiss the severity of either. Additionally, many people are quick to assume that mental illness and substance use disorders are caused by the individual. More so, they may be inclined to think that people can manage these disorders without medical assistance.
Personality disorders and substance abuse have something in common. They both require attention from a medical professional to maintain good health. Though, some people might not understand they have a personality disorder and addiction problem. Loved ones might not be able to pick up on it as well. Knowing what is a personality disorder and what is substance abuse can determine if someone needs help.
About Personality Disorders
Personality disorders affect 10% to 13% of the population worldwide. As of 2020, there are around 7.8 billion people in the world. This means that up to 1 billion people suffer from personality disorders on Earth. That’s a pretty large amount of people and an indication of how mental illness is more common than some may think.
By definition, a personality disorder is when a person’s personality changes drastically or develops abnormally. It’s a large umbrella term that covers ten different disorders.
Doctors will diagnose a person with a personality disorder if it affects two or more of these areas:
- Emotional response
You may identify with some of the characteristics. Keep in mind that a personality disorder impedes daily life. The characteristics are so extreme it makes people in danger of themselves and others.
The Ten Types of Personality Disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) – People with this disorder habitually lack regard for how their actions may affect those around them. Characteristics include compulsive lying, cheating, and acting impulsively. Sociopaths fall into this category. They generally lack remorse and will try to manipulate people for self-gain.
- Avoidant personality disorder – This is an extreme aversion to criticism and rejection. People with this disorder often feel worthless.
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – It’s characterized by reckless, impulsive behaviors (unprotected sex with many partners and substance abuse). Other patterns include emotional instability, extreme lack of self-confidence, and inability to keep personal relationships.
- Dependent personality disorder – Individuals with this disorder feel they must be taken care of, like a child. They may struggle to make decisions without reassurance and fear being alone.
- Histrionic personality disorder – People suffering from this need to be the center of attention at all times. They may do this by dressing or acting outlandishly.
- Narcissistic personality disorder – This disorder makes people feel a constant need for admiration and inability to empathize with other people. Individuals suffering from this personality disorder think everyone is not as good as them. This gives them an inflated sense of self-worth. They may take advantage of others because of this.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder – Please note this is different from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder strive for perfection in all things and may work excessively.
- Paranoid personality disorder – Individuals with paranoid personality disorder often feel like the world is out to get them. They may not get close to anyone because of their paranoia.
- Schizoid personality disorder – Characteristics of schizoid personality disorder are a lack of desire to form any personal relationships. They lack the ability to care about anyone’s opinions.
- Schizotypal personality disorder – This disorder is characterized by the inability to form close relationships because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They may act erratically or strangely.
About Substance Abuse
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs”. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 18.6 million American adults had a substance use disorder. That’s around 1/12 US adults. Approximately 14.1 million suffered from an alcohol use disorder.
A substance use disorder and substance abuse are two separate things. Neither always result in addiction. Though, substance abuse and addiction can fall into the category of a substance use disorder.
General symptoms and signs of substance abuse include:
- Acting strangely or out of it
- Difficulty at school and work
- Extreme changes in behavior
- Acting defensive about drug and alcohol use
- Spending excessive amounts of money and asking for loans all the time
- Lack of interest in personal hygiene and maintaining a suitable physical appearance
- Drastic changes in relationships (randomly breaking up with a significant other and losing lots of friends)
On their own, these signs might not indicate anything serious. Yet, when they combine, it could mean substance abuse is present. Stay mindful of loved ones that exhibit any of these symptoms. A simple conversation about drugs and alcohol can make you aware of where they stand.
Dual Diagnosis: Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse
A personality disorder and addiction are not uncommon. Research indicates that 65% to 90% of patients surveyed for substance abuse were also diagnosed with a personality disorder. BPD seems to affect a large number of people suffering from a co-occurring disorder. Scientific journals have found that up to 66% of people with BPD also have substance use disorder.
Alcoholics often suffer from personality disorders, too. A personality disorder increases the chances of developing other health disorders in general. That’s what makes diagnosing them early on so important. This can pose an issue as personality disorders won’t generally develop until someone is late into their teens. Substance abuse can make a personality disorder worse.
Signs of Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse
A personality disorder can make someone seem like they’re on drugs or that they’re drunk. Yet, people that know them well enough should be able to distinguish when something is different. People with certain personality disorders are secretive about true intentions more often than not. The same goes for how they truly think about people.
Signs of personality disorders and substance abuse simultaneously can include:
- Noticeably using drugs and alcohol
- Acting much more emotional than usual
- Incessantly talking about conspiracy theories
- Telling someone how they intend to manipulate them
- Revealing how they feel better/worse than everyone else
Personality disorders and addiction don’t interact well together. Individuals suffering from a personality disorder might already act strangely in comparison to other people. Substance abuse will make them seem way more off-kilter than usual.
How Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse Happen
Substance abuse can happen when a person attempts to self-medicate. People might try to get over an avoidant personality disorder with the use of alcohol. For example, they might feel that the sting of criticism and judgment may be lessened by it. Anyone with a personality disorder may try to mask social awkwardness in general with substance abuse.
Additionally, some personality disorders cause people to act impulsively. Using drugs and alcohol may be an impulsive decision they don’t have the ability to stop. This can easily turn casual substance use into an addiction. They might not even be aware that they have a personality disorder, which makes the situation worse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse
Dual diagnosis treatment within an addiction treatment facility involves looking at both the substance use disorder and the personality disorder. One cannot be fully cured without the other. Both personality disorders and addiction are treatable in the right setting. Dual diagnosis treatment for personality disorders and substance abuse may include:
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – The clinical staff will use medicine to help with symptoms of a personality disorder and with withdrawal
- Therapy – Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is particularly effective for co-occurring disorders, but others include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and holistic
- Residential treatment – Patients will have 24/7 help while they live at the treatment facility
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)– These are intensive outpatient programs that take almost the full day but allow patients to go home at the end of the day
- Detox – Patients will get rid of any traces of drugs and alcohol from the body under medical supervision
Behavioral Health Center Can Help People With Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse Issues
Treatment looks different for every person dealing with personality disorders and addiction. That’s why we always come up with individualized plans to ensure the most effective treatment. We can help if you or a loved one deals with personality disorders and substance abuse. Contact us now to find freedom from addiction.