Living with a personality disorder and managing its symptoms is not an easy burden to bear; it becomes even more difficult when issues of alcoholism occur alongside the disorder. The relationship between alcohol addiction and personality disorders is undeniable and complex.
In general, individuals with personality disorders are at an increased risk of developing an alcohol and/or substance abuse problem. The following are a few of the personality disorders commonly associated with alcoholism:
- Antisocial personality disorder, characterized by abnormal ways of thinking and perceiving situations, including having no regard for right or wrong and exhibiting destructive behavior
- Borderline personality disorder, characterized by a long-term pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions and decision-making
- Histrionic personality disorder, characterized by attention-seeking behavior and a lack of emotional intimacy
- Narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, a need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others
These personality disorders are classified as “Cluster B” personality disorders, which are dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders.
Alcohol Addiction Caused by Personality Disorders
People with personality disorders suffer from emotional instability. Impulsivity, a lack of self-control, fluctuating self-esteem and failed relationships can all fuel the desire to turn to alcohol to numb the pain and heartache.
Personality Disorders Exacerbated by Alcohol Addiction
While alcohol addiction does not cause personality disorders to develop, it can exacerbate the symptoms of a personality disorder that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Alcoholism affects mental health negatively, which can lead to increased emotional instability.
Personality Disorders and Alcohol Addiction Masking One Another
People with genetic tendencies toward personality disorders also have genetic tendencies toward alcoholism. Additionally, the symptoms of alcohol addiction and personality disorders can appear quite similar. Self-absorption, mood swings, depression, failure to attend to responsibilities and destructive and even violent behavior can characterize alcohol dependence, a personality disorder or both.
The symptoms of alcoholism can provide a sort of camouflage for the symptoms of a personality disorder. In some cases, the underlying disorder is never discovered because it is difficult to see past the symptoms of an alcohol abuse problem.
Recovery from Co-Occurring Alcohol Addiction and Personality Disorders
Individuals who suffer from personality disorders tend to have more problematic symptoms of alcohol abuse than other people. Instability can cause them to be noncommittal or even averse to accepting treatment. Once in treatment, they are more likely to quit rather than attempt to work through the issues they face in treatment in a healthy manner. In treatment, both the alcohol addiction and the underlying issues must be addressed for a patient to achieve a full recovery.
Help for Alcohol Addiction and Personality Disorders
If you or a loved one has a co-occurring alcohol dependence disorder and personality disorder, comprehensive treatment can help you work through both issues for a chance at long-lasting recovery. Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline today to speak with a trained counselor about your specific treatment needs and options. We are here to help. Please call today.