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Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Understanding the Links Between BPD and Addiction

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a highly misunderstood and stigmatized mental illness. Those who struggle with borderline personality disorder have difficulties maintaining relationships, and sometimes, it’s even difficult for them to find a therapist who will work with them. Due to erratic emotional states, it’s easy for a person with BPD to struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety as well. Aside from the other symptoms, those with borderline personality disorder are also likely to turn to self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

First, it’s important to understand what causes borderline personality disorder. There is a lot of debate about whether BPD arises from nature or nurture, but both are possible. Studies have shown that there are some genetic components to BPD, so it’s possible to have the disorder pass down through generations. On the other hand, the majority of people who develop BPD were victims of emotional, physical or sexual abuse as children. So, it’s possible that the child of someone with BPD became more likely to develop the disorder as well due to how they were raised. 

There are nine main symptoms of borderline personality disorder, which can include the following:

  • An overwhelming feeling of abandonment

  • A pattern of having unstable intense relationships due to black and white thinking

  • Chronic changes of self-identity or a lack of sense of self

  • Stress-related paranoia

  • Impulsive and risky behavior such as substance abuse, promiscuity, binge-eating and more

  • Suicidal threats and/or self-harm

  • Poor emotional regulation

  • Feelings of emptiness

  • Inappropriate, intense anger

Once you understand the symptoms, it makes the picture clearer as to why people with BPD turn to substance abuse. The primary symptoms to look at are impulsive and risky behavior as well as emotional regulation issues. Those with BPD struggle with pausing and thinking before they act. Not only can this cause issues with relationships, but it can also make them turn to various behaviors due to intense pleasure-seeking. People with borderline personality disorder may also turn to substances to help regulate emotions.

How BPD and Substance Abuse Turns Into an Addiction

Those with BPD are very self-destructive. Sometimes, the overwhelming fear of abandonment makes a person bring on a self-fulfilling prophecy by sabotaging relationships. In other instances, they may abuse substances as a form of self-harm. No matter what the case may be, when a person turns to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate, the brain begins to think that’s the solution. Although a person with BPD is trying to manage their life through using substances, substance abuse eventually makes life more unmanageable. These substances also affect the mind, which can make a person have even more problems with emotional regulation.

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

If you have BPD, to truly recover, you need dual diagnosis treatment. This form of treatment helps you begin to manage your symptoms of BPD as well as your substance abuse issues. There are many therapies that help people get their symptoms under control like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and peer support can be a great tool to help prevent substance abuse. 

Enlightened Solutions Detox is here to help you if you’re struggling with addiction and also have BPD. We’ll help you come off of the substances safely and also provide you with treatment for your symptoms of BPD. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, call us today at 833-233-7336.

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