Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction: What’s the Connection?

The following article was written by Adam Cook from addiction It does not reflect the opinion of FBPDA Board Members.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction: What’s the Connection?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a disorder that causes extreme mood swings, a distorted sense of self, impulsive behavior, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and anger problems among other symptoms. The levels of severity have a wide range from person to person, but the illness has a profound effect on the sufferer regardless.

Addiction is an unfortunate effect of BPD for a number of reasons and can be extremely detrimental to the health of the individual. If someone you know has BPD, this overview of the risks of addiction and the effects it can bring will be helpful in supporting them and knowing possible warning signs to watch out for.

Why Do BPD Sufferers Become Addicts?

Like many mental illnesses, BPD has a tendency to go untreated thanks to a continued stigma against mental health. People with mental illnesses who receive inadequate treatment or no treatment at all become more likely to self-medicate.  Self-medication is an attempt by an ill person to use addictive substances to control their symptoms and very often leads to addiction.

For those with BPD, the symptoms of anger, confusion, and turmoil can be too much to bear. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol may seem like an escape to reduce the intensity of these emotions. Before they know it, they are not only suffering from BPD, but they are also dependent on a substance to feel “normal.”

What Effects Will Addiction Have on BPD?

Though substance abuse may seem to reduce certain symptoms, long-term use is very damaging. People with BPD often struggle with self-harm, destructive behavior, and suicidal thoughts. When their inhibitions are removed with an addictive substance, there is nothing standing in the way of their self-destructive impulses.

Substance abuse can cause a BPD suffer to physically harm themselves, engage in risky behavior, experience worsened mood swings and emotional difficulties and even attempt suicide. The moment addictive behavior is noticed, get help.

Is Recovery Possible?

Recovery is always possible. The sooner BPD is recognized and treated, the less likely the person is to become an addict. If someone you love is already addicted, it is not too late.  Treatment and the road to recovery may be more complicated but with the help of a professional, the addiction can be eradicated and the BPD controlled. It is extremely important that someone with BPD does not use addictive substances as they are much more likely to become hooked quickly.

The moment you notice a loved one with BPD using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, you must act. The sooner you do, the quicker they can receive proper treatment and begin the journey to recovery. If the behavior is permitted to continue, your loved one’s life could be in danger.

Coping with borderline personality disorder in a loved one is difficult. Their mood swings, emotional difficulties, and self-destructive behavior seem hand-crafted for ruining personal relationships. However, proper treatment can manage these symptoms and help your loved one regain control over their life.

When addiction is added to the mix, treatment becomes trickier as the symptoms grow worse. Immediate treatment is the key to recovery. If you see the symptoms of BPD or addiction do not wait, act. You could be saving your loved one’s life.

Image via Pixabay by matlachu

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