Addiction and borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a common dual diagnosis. BPD is characterized by unstable emotions, self-image, and behavior. This can lead to impulsive behavior and relationship problems. Not only do people with BPD have unstable moods and self-image, but they tend to think in extremes. They may think a friend is completely wonderful one day and evil the next. As you might expect, these wild changes can lead to a lot of conflict and turmoil. People with BPD are prone to bouts of anger, anxiety, and depression. They may engage in reckless or self-harming behavior and have persistent suicidal thoughts. As with any dual diagnosis, addiction and BPD make each other worse. Since people with BPD have trouble forming healthy relationships, they are prone to isolation. Even if they do have people they can rely on, the nature of the condition often makes them feel abandoned and isolated. This lack of stable social connection is a major risk factor for addiction. People with BPD also experience a number of other symptoms that put them at greater risk of addiction. They often feel anxiety, depression, emptiness, and self-loathing. They may use drugs or alcohol to escape these feelings. Unfortunately, substance use only makes their moods more volatile. People with BPD are already impulsive and substance use may make them behave more recklessly. This is especially dangerous as people with BPD often have suicidal thoughts and substance use has been shown to significantly increase the risk of suicide. BPD and addiction are also likely to share a common cause. One major risk factor for developing BPD is abuse or neglect as a child. You learn to be pathologically afraid of abandonment and that people who care for you one day might harm you the next. This may, itself, be a result of having a parent who struggles with addiction. Abuse, neglect, feeling unsafe or uncared for at home, and other adverse childhood experiences significantly increase your risk of addiction. BPD is difficult to treat. Patients have a hard time trusting therapists and group members and they can also be manipulative and antisocial. Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, was developed specifically to treat BPD. It’s an intensive therapy with two weekly sessions, one individually with a therapist, and one with a group. DBT focuses on accepting difficult emotions, or distress tolerance, and learning strategies to regulate them. It also teaches strategies for interpersonal effectiveness, which patients practice with each other in group sessions.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or borderline personality disorder, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.