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Related Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder and Drug Abuse

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It’s not uncommon for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to develop a drug addiction. People with BPD often develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol as a way to help them feel in control of their BPD symptoms, such as impulsivity and poor emotional regulation.

That is because people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder often don’t see themselves as being in control of their own lives, and drugs can provide a mechanism for them to cope. Drugs and other compulsive behaviors (such as sex or gambling) can be enticing to someone with BPD because of their soothing, distracting, and escaping nature.

Drug abuse can work to block out any pain or discomfort someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is feeling, whether physical or emotional. Drugs, both illegal and prescription, can also decrease intense emotional experiences.

Drugs Commonly Abused By People with BPD

Drug abuse can be the result of any drug, whether illegal drugs (like cocaine or marijuana) or prescription medications. People with Borderline Personality Disorder may commonly abuse drugs they are prescribed for co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression in order to better cope with their symptoms.

Once someone with BPD begins using drugs to feel more in control and cope with pain or trauma, there is a good chance that it can develop into a dangerous drug addiction. Because people with Borderline Personality Disorder often engage in self-harmful behaviors, they may also attempt to overdose on their prescription medications or other drugs.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Clearly, not everyone who has Borderline Personality Disorder will develop a drug addiction. And not everyone with BPD who is prescribed medications will abuse them. If you are worried that you or someone you love who has BPD has developed a drug addiction, here are some of the signs of drug abuse Narconon International says to watch for:

  • A sudden change in behavior
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Withdrawal from family members
  • Carelessness about personal grooming
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable, such as sports or hobbies
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Red or glassy eyes
  • Runny nose

Because some of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder and drug abuse overlap – specifically sudden changes in behavior and drastic mood swings – you need to be sure a drug addiction exists. If you determine it does with the help of a treatment professional, then it will be important to get dual diagnosis treatment that treats both BPD and drug abuse.

BPD and Drug Addiction Treatment

If you have both Borderline Personality Disorder and a drug addiction, it will be necessary to treat each disorder in order to make a complete recovery from both. Through dual diagnosis treatment, you will be able to get effective treatment that will treat each discrete disorder and its symptoms.

Dual diagnosis treatment for both BPD and drug abuse will use therapies, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), that have proven to be effective in treating both disorders. At the same time, you will participate in individual therapy and therapy groups that can address the symptoms of each specific disorder.

To make a successful recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, it is important to first stop abusing drugs and become stable without them. Only then can you truly address your BPD symptoms and learn healthy ways to manage them without turning to drugs.

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