Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex, often misunderstood mental disorder that is closely linked with addiction. Many studies have indicated that nearly half of all people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder also struggle with a dependence on alcohol or drugs.

People affected by Borderline Personality Disorder live in constant chaos and feelings of abandonment, shame and emptiness are common symptoms. The emotional pain, extreme anger and depression are extremely difficult to cope with. Personal relationships are turbulent and often short-lived, as people with the disorder are often manipulative and filled with inappropriate, uncontrollable rage.
There are several theories why some people develop Borderline Personality. Some experts think the disorder is a matter of genetics, while others think that use of drugs and alcohol leads to BPD because the substances deplete the level of serotonin in the brain. Others believe it is the result of a difficult childhood and dysfunctional family relationships.

Despite the cause of the disorder, it isn't difficult to understand why people with BPD often attempt to numb the terrifying emotions with drugs and alcohol. However, diagnosing co-occurring disorders such as addiction and BPD is difficult because the two disorders have many symptoms that overlap. For example, both are marked by self-destructive behavior, poor judgment, distorted self-image and poor impulse control that leads to financial problems and instability in jobs and relationships.

Some people may self-diagnose or even be diagnosed by a professional as borderline, though in fact their symptoms result from alcohol abuse and addiction.

People with the disorder aren’t easy for treatment professionals to work with because they tend to be hostile, manipulative and paranoid. However, with treatment, it’s very possible for people with addiction and BPD to live happier, productive and most importantly, somehow peaceful and content lives mostly free of inner turmoil and emptiness. Effective treatment, which should begin immediately, requires a supportive environment and a team of skilled addiction professionals who have experience dealing with dual diagnosis (when an addiction and one or more mental disorders are present at the same time).
Treatment usually involves a holistic approach that includes extensive psychotherapy to address both issues simultaneously. Different psychotherapeutic approaches are used to manage symptoms as well as remedy or at least alleviate the underlying issues of the disorder.

Effective treatment should include a thorough medical evaluation that reveals biochemical imbalances and nutritional deficiencies. Proper diet combined with supplements such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids help restore healthy balance.

Family therapy offers help for exhausted loved ones and helps them understand Borderline Personality so they are able to care for themselves while providing support for their family member. A comprehensive aftercare plan is essential, relapse is common, it can however, be prevented or minimized. If relapse occurs, getting back on track is easier and with help can be a learning experience and not a tragedy.

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