Personality Disorders and Their Role in Addiction
Personality disorders are marked by an individual’s inability to relate to others, form relationships and interpret certain nuances of human communication. Those afflicted with a personality disorder are often unaware that they have a problem in the first place, instead interpreting their difficulties with socialization on external sources.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, personality disorders are prevalent in more than 9 percent of the U.S. population. The unhealthy social expectations that characterize a personality disorder are firmly internalized by the individual, making it very difficult to manage the mental illness without the guidance of a medical professional.
Learning more about the signs and symptoms of a personality disorder makes the mental illness considerably easier to identify.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized an individual’s noticeable lack of empathy toward other people. This lack of empathy makes it extremely difficult for someone diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder to recognize when they have hurt others.
Additionally, these individuals see little harm in flouting societal expectations or breaking the law in pursuit of their goals. In some cases, individuals with antisocial personality disorder tend to exploit those in close relationships with them.
Common symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include:
- Impulsive behavior
- Rationalization of wrongdoing
- Compulsive dishonesty
- Inability to adapt to social norms
- Reckless behavior
- Aggressive tendencies
Borderline Personality Disorder
An individual with borderline personality disorder demonstrates extreme difficulties establishing and maintaining healthy intimate relationships with others. The connections they are able to make are hampered by the individual’s extreme fear of abandonment and unstable self-image. Sex addiction also happens to fall within the borderline personality disorder category.
This personality disorder typically begins to manifest in adolescence, meaning that most adults with borderline personality disorder have already internalized unhealthy, often risky socializing strategies by the time they reach full adulthood.
Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:
- Unpredictable mood shifts
- Chronic suicidal behavior
- Deep feelings of emptiness
- Unpredictable aggression
- Unstable sense of self
- Extreme fear of abandonment
Dependent Personality Disorder
Those afflicted with dependent personality disorder experience a debilitating fear of being abandoned by those closest to them. As a result, they also experience a deep desire to be cared for by others. Individuals with this personality disorder consistently take on submissive roles and participate in dependent behaviors.
Additionally, those with dependent personality disorder regularly express self-doubt and express negative thoughts about their own competence or appearance. These behaviors ultimately interfere with the individual’s ability to establish healthy, fulfilling relationships.
Common symptoms of dependent personality disorder include:
- Obsessive, “clingy” behavior
- Inability to make decisions without input
- Inability to accomplish tasks while alone
- Intense fear of losing relationships
- Consistent dependent behavior
- Chronic feelings of helplessness
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by an individual’s extremely inflated sense of self-worth. These individuals have internalized a deep respect for their own abilities, and thus experience extreme distress when this confidence is not mirrored by others.
Ultimately, an individual with narcissistic personality disorder constructs an extremely confident persona to distract from deep insecurities about his or her own self-worth. This elevated sense of self-importance can hinder the individual from establishing lasting and meaningful relationships.
Common symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include:
- Arrogant attitude and behavior
- Exaggerated sense of entitlement
- Expectation of special treatment
- Obsession with being admired
- Fragile self-esteem
- Overstating personal abilities
The Connection Between Personality Disorders and Addiction
Personality disorders are particularly difficult to treat because they are rooted in the individual’s difficulties in interpreting the world around them. Addressing these issues becomes even more difficult when individuals exhibit multiple mental health disorders. One of the most common examples of this type of dual diagnosis is an individual who struggles with a personality disorder and a substance use disorder.
Substance abuse for these individuals typically begins in an attempt to mask or manage the negative symptoms of a personality disorder. Unfortunately, this approach almost always creates more problems than it solves.
Trusted Treatment for Personality Disorders and Addiction
The most effective recovery strategy for those struggling to manage a personality disorder and addiction is to enter a treatment program that accounts for both mental illnesses. At The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches, our staff of physicians and therapists are adept at navigating the complexity of co-occurring mental disorders.
Please reach our admissions counselors anytime by phone at (866) 295-6003 if you have more questions about how we help those suffering from substance abuse along with a personality disorder.