Learn About Dependent Personality Disorder and Its Ties to Substance Abuse

Individuals diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder (DPD) display an extreme aversion to being left alone or abandoned. These individuals will obsessively seek out relationships in hopes of receiving constant reassurance and support.

A dependent personality disorder can initially be difficult to spot or diagnose, as many people simply interpret these symptoms as the behavior of a person with a clingy personality.

The reality is far worse. Individuals diagnosed with DPD believe that they are incapable of managing their lives without ongoing guidance and emotional support. As a result, their ability to live out happy, healthy lives is severely limited by their disorder.

Like other personality disorders, DPD is characterized by a person whose experience and behavior greatly deviates from what is normally expected. In the case of those diagnosed with dependent personality disorder, these deviations revolve around the person’s perception of his or her own capabilities.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with DPD tend to avoid being alone. They are also prone to going to great lengths to please others while simultaneously expecting others to prioritize their care. In some cases, those diagnosed with DPD will even endure abuse and mistreatment in exchange for companionship and help with daily tasks.

Over time, the symptoms of DPD will inevitably begin to hurt the person’s relationships. As relationships deteriorate, the individual’s fear of isolation grows worse and they may begin to participate in risky, dangerous behavior in order to draw attention to themselves. Individuals with a personality disorder are often defensive when confronted about their behavior directly.

The following symptoms of DPD can be identified to determine if a loved one has a problem:

  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Difficulty starting or completing projects
  • Constant fear of rejection in relationships
  • Overwhelming need to be affirmed
  • Strong desire to be taken care of by others
  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • Tendency to assume submissive behaviors
  • Hopelessness or anxiety when left alone
  • Participation in toxic relationships

Risk Factors for Dependent Personality Disorder

Treatment for DependenceAs is the case with most personality disorders, medical experts and psychiatric specialists continue to debate the root causes of dependent personality disorder. Despite the ongoing nature of this discussion, psychiatric professionals have identified a number of risk factors that are commonly associated with DPD.

These factors are not reliable indicators that a person will unquestionably develop a personality disorder. However, the more of these risk factors a person is exposed to, the higher the likelihood that he or she will be diagnosed with a personality disorder later in life:

The risk factors for dependent personality disorder include:

  • Chaotic or Unstable Family Life: Children who experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse as a child are more likely to develop a personality disorder like DPD as an adult. Likewise, those who experienced abandonment issues from childhood are at a higher risk for DPD.
  • Diagnosis of Childhood Conduct Disorder: A wide range of behavioral and emotional problems experienced by children are referred to as conduct disorders. These problems can include patterns of aggression, theft, and destruction of property. Untreated conduct disorders in children can evolve into personality disorders in adults.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Mental disorders are largely passed down from one generation to the next. Individuals whose parents, grandparents or siblings have been diagnosed with DPD are at high risk themselves for developing such a disorder as they get older.

The Connection Between Dependent Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Dependent personality disorder presents a significant challenge for treatment on its own. Solving the problem becomes even more difficult when the patient reveals that he or she also has a co-occurring substance abuse problem. It’s not uncommon for individuals with a personality disorder to manage their symptoms with illegal drugs or excessive alcohol intake.

This approach is incredibly dangerous for individuals with DPD, especially if they become dependent on another addict or a drug dealer. Furthermore, the presence of harmful substances in their system can make it even more difficult for them to manage their mental illness.

Finding Treatment for DPD and Addiction

At The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village, we don’t simply address substance abuse. We consider the whole patient when devising a personalized recovery strategy. The only way to effectively manage dual diagnosis cases is with a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on mental health disorder and the addiction at the same time.

We rely on a multi-modal approach, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to treating a personality disorder with a co-occurring substance abuse problem. Call The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village today at (866) 295-6003 if you have any additional questions on treatment for a personality disorder along with drug or alcohol addiction.

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