Personality Disorders

It’s estimated that between 10-13% of the global population suffers from some type of personality disorder, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Like other mental health conditions, personality disorders can range from mild to severe, and they often affect the way a person perceives and interacts with the world around them.

People who suffer from personality disorders often struggle with other mental disorders, including addiction. It’s common for individuals to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to cope with distressing symptoms. As a result, personality disorders need to be treated by a mental health professional.

bpd and addiction

What is a Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder is a type of mental health condition that causes a person to develop patterns of thinking and behaviors that are considered unusual. Their personality traits don’t adhere to social norms and often interfere with their daily life.

People who have a personality disorder often struggle to maintain a social life, form new relationships, hold a steady job, and properly care for others. Most disorders are diagnosed before age 18 when an individual’s personality is in the height of development.

Depending on the severity of a person’s personality disorder, they can come across as a danger to themselves and others around them. Because of that, personality disorder diagnoses are often managed with medication to limit extreme mood swings, irritability, and aggressive behavior.

personality disorders

Personality disorders can develop for a number of reasons, but the combination of genes and the environment tends to play a significant role. While there is no combination of characteristics and experiences that lead to a personality disorder, these factors are often at play:


  • Family history of personality disorders
  • Abuse, chaos, and instability in a person’s environment, particularly during childhood
  • Variations in brain structure and chemical balances
  • Experiencing a traumatic life event

Types of Personality Disorders

There are 10 types of personality disorders, and they are grouped into three main categories—eccentric, dramatic, and anxious. The disorders in each category are defined by characteristics that cause abnormal personality traits and other side effects.

Eccentric personality disorders

  • Paranoid personality disorder: This disorder is marked by a general mistrust and suspicion of other people. Individuals with paranoid personality disorder think that others are trying to threaten or hurt them.
  • Schizoid personality disorder: People with schizoid personality disorder usually prefer isolation to socialization. They’re often detached from others, and rarely show emotion to other people.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: People with schizotypal personality disorder are superstitious and have eccentric beliefs. In addition to strange behavior, they also might have an odd appearance.

Dramatic personality disorders

  • Antisocial personality disorder: This disorder is characterized by aggressive behavior, defying authority, and failing to abide by societal norms. People with antisocial personality disorder might be called sociopaths, and they sometimes commit serious crimes.
  • Borderline personality disorder: Borderline personality disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, impulsive and inappropriate behaviors, and poor self-image.
  • Histrionic personality disorder: People with histrionic personality disorder act like children, even as adults, and are always looking for attention. They can be dramatic and very emotional.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: People with narcissistic personality disorder strongly believe they are better than others and are very self-centered. Although they struggle with low self-esteem, they’re always looking for constant attention and praise.

Anxious personality disorders

  • Avoidant personality disorder: Individuals with avoidant personality disorder self-isolate and avoid social interaction because they’re afraid of being rejected, judged, or embarrassed.
  • Dependent personality disorder: People with this condition are constantly looking for reassurance from others, and have a fear of separation. They might come across as clingy, helpless, and passive.
  • Obsessive compulsive personality disorder: People with obsessive compulsive disorder are perfectionists, and are afraid of making mistakes. They often struggle to make decisions and complete tasks. OCPD is different from OCD, which is an anxiety disorder.
support group recovery

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction and/or dual-diagnosis, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

Personality Disorders and Addiction

Personality disorders often come with extremely distressing side effects. The symptoms can make normal, everyday activities very difficult.

As a result, it’s common for people with personality disorders to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in lieu of treatment.

In most cases, a personality disorder is diagnosed during treatment for a substance abuse disorder. But in some cases, the mental disorder may develop as a result of the addiction.

There are a number of reasons why it’s risky for someone with a personality disorder to use drugs and alcohol. If someone is dealing with a disorder that causes aggressive or dangerous behavior, it could make them more likely to hurt themselves or others if they’re using substances.

Additionally, drug and alcohol use often makes the symptoms of personality disorders much worse. Someone with a personality disorder might use substances to make them feel less anxious, or more confident. But in reality, substances can exacerbate those feelings and cause the person to behave in ways they usually don’t.

Treatment for Personality Disorders and Addiction

Anyone who is dealing with a personality disorder or addiction needs to seek professional treatment. But when a person is dealing with a personality disorder and addiction simultaneously, treatment is slightly more complicated.

In order for the person to make a full recovery, both disorders need to be treated together, at the same time. Failure to address both conditions can increase the person’s risk of relapse, especially because mental health and addiction can create a complicated, dependent relationship.

Because of the unique nature of personality disorders, it’s not uncommon for people to have a hard time accepting treatment and committing to the program. For instance, someone with avoidant personality disorder might struggle to leave their house to attend therapy. A person with narcissistic personality disorder might believe they are too good for treatment and can recover without professional help.

Treatment for dual-diagnosis cases often requires multiple mental health and addiction specialists who can address the unique needs of the individual. Depending on the severity of the person’s addiction, they may need to begin treatment in a medical detox setting. Individuals who suffer from mild to moderate substance abuse issues can benefit from a Partial Hospitalization Program.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a personality disorder and/or addiction, contact us today to speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction and/or dual-diagnosis, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

Sign up for our Monthly Newsletter and get our blogs delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Call Now