What Is the Relationship Between Borderline and Addictive Personality Disorder?

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addictive personality disorder

Borderline and addictive personality disorder are closely related and often co-occurring. Only 2.7% of adults will be diagnosed with BPD. But 78% of those who are will develop an addiction at some point in their life. 

The nature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) amplifies the symptoms of addiction. And vice versa. Impulsiveness and deceitful behavior are present in both disorders. This makes an accurate diagnosis of the two in one person quite difficult. 

Examples of borderline personality disorder can be characterized by one word: chaos. Co-occurrence of these disorders could be lethal if left untreated. Treatment of these disorders should be immediate and compassionate. 

Here is an overview of the relationship between borderline and addictive personality disorder.

Identifying Borderline Personality Disorder

There are many characteristics of this disorder. So don’t start Googling things like ‘am I borderline’ and freak yourself out. Take a deep breath and contact a licensed practitioner for an accurate diagnosis.

Symptoms of BPD include:

  • Paranoia
  • Extreme emotional responses to real or imagined provocation
  • Unpredictable, manipulative, and/or impulsive behavior
  • Fragile or unstable sense of self
  • Chronic depression
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to control anger, short-tempered
  • Severe fear of abandonment and frantic attempts to avoid rejection
  • Inability to maintain close relationships
  • Suicidal behavior

No main cause has been attributed to the formation of this disorder. However, individuals from a difficult background appear more likely to develop BPD. This includes dysfunctional, emotionally neglectful or physically abusive parents.

Neurological abnormalities or brain chemistry imbalances are additional risk factors. As well as being related to someone with BPD.

Persons with BPD may have experienced severe trauma in their lifetime. Such as abandonment or sexual abuse during the early stages of development. This disorder warps a person’s self-image. Without a stable sense of self, sustaining connections and relationships with others becomes difficult.

Those constant or frequent feelings of distrust and distress in a person’s youth leave a deep impression in the plastic human mind. BPD is a personality disorder that causes individuals to dissociate from reality and/or their own identity. This leads to risky behavior and unstable relationships. 

Borderline Personality Disorder Examples

Examples of borderline personality disorder reveal a very painful illness. The emotional pain often manifests into self-destructive behavior, making the pain both mental and physical.

Persons with BPD may engage in reckless behavior in spite of the consequences and risks. They do this in response to feelings of emptiness, depression, and abandonment. However, those who suffer from BPD do not cause harm maliciously. 

They seek the feelings of comfort and safety that those of us without BPD take for granted. They have difficulty controlling their emotions. In fact, they feel immense guilt when they realize the damage they’ve caused. 

Profile of an individual with BPD (referred to here as ‘J’):

  • J meets the criteria for BPD diagnosis
  • J self-harms daily, cutting and burning different parts of their body
  • This activity serves as a form of tension relief but also acts as self-punishment
  • J’s self-harm has put their life in danger on numerous occasions
  • J has attempted suicide four times in the last 13 years

People with BPD turn to various dysfunctional coping mechanisms. In some cases, drugs and alcohol are used to deal with the overwhelming emotional suffering.

Is There Such a Thing as Addictive Personality Disorder?

Alcoholics, drug addicts, gamblers, the obese, and nymphomaniacs. They are all viewed with a single lens in our society. They lack ‘self-control.’ 

But even people without these serious issues jokingly claim to have an ‘addictive personality.’ This allows them to push blame for their guilty cravings onto something else. But when you think about it, isn’t everyone addicted to something?

Coffee, weed, cigarettes, running, television, sugar, Facebook, Coke or cocaine.

Contemporary addiction researchers disagree with the notion of a generic addictive personality disorder. Not everyone with an addiction is a lying, manipulative, amoral, thief. Some addicts are shy, while others are outgoing. 

So can one ‘personality’ really be to blame for such a nuanced concept as addiction?

This negative depiction of mental disorders is not limited to addiction. Numerous disorders are often portrayed as exaggerations of normal feelings, weakness, or attention-seeking. 

We should never be angry with individuals who are clearly suffering. A bit of compassion and understanding goes a long way for someone who clearly feels they don’t get enough of it.   

So how is addiction related to examples of borderline personality disorder?

How Borderline Tendencies Heighten Addiction

The same cognitive and biological factors that contribute to BPD contribute to substance abuse. A child raised by alcoholic parents more likely to be neurologically affected by this environment. Verbal abuse and emotional neglect can cause the child to develop a substance abuse problem and potentially BPD later in life.

Statistically, those with BPD are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Like anyone with an addiction, persons with BPD use these substances to escape the negative feelings caused by their disorder. 

When coupled with an addiction, the more dangerous symptoms of BPD become increasingly so. Drugs and alcohol exacerbate impulsive and self-destructive behavior. 

If an individual who lacks concern for their own health and safety is already at risk of committing suicide. When they become addicted to alcohol to cope with feelings of depression and abandonment, that risk greatly increases. 

You Deserve Compassion and Help

Never in your wildest dreams should you expect a person suffering from BPD to ‘get over it.’ The reality of BPD requires intense amounts of patience from trained professionals. Even more so when coupled with so-called addictive personality disorder.

BPD is difficult to treat due to the nature of its symptoms. Paranoia, rage, self-harm, and unpredictable behavior complicate the already difficult process of therapy. Especially when coupled with symptoms of withdrawal. 

It is essential that you treat the addiction and BPD at the same time. This requires an individualized treatment plan.

The Northbound Addiction Treatment Center offers both addiction and mental health services. For more information about their experience, rate of success, and fields of treatment, click here.  

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