Personality disorders are mental health conditions that affect the way a person perceives and interacts with the world around them.
The behaviors that manifest as a result can range in severity, but are often perceived as unusual, and in some cases dangerous, to those around them.
These behaviors are often classified as not adhering to social norms.
Personality disorders can develop for a number of reasons, but the combination of genes and environment tend to play a significant role in their development. While there is no precise combination of characteristics and experiences that lead to their development, the following factors can increase their risk:
- Family history of personality disorders
- Abuse, chaos, and instability, particularly during childhood
- Variations in brain structure and chemical balances
- Traumatic life events
Substance abuse tends to be more prevalent in those who have mental health disorders.
This is because substances are often used as a form of self-medication, in lieu of treatment, for symptoms of mental health conditions. In many cases, a personality disorder or other mental health condition is diagnosed during treatment for a substance abuse disorder, but in some cases, they may develop as a result of addiction. While use of substances may temporarily provide relief from symptoms of a mental health condition, over time, it can lead to the development of addiction and worsened symptoms associated with the disorder.
Types of Personality Disorders
Most personality disorders fall into one of three categories, also referred to as clusters.
Disorders in each cluster have similar characteristics that define them. The degree to which these characteristics impact a person can range and not all symptoms will be present in a person with the disorder.
- Cluster A: Categorized as disorders that display odd or eccentric behaviors
- Cluster B: Categorized as disorders that display dramatic or emotional behaviors
- Cluster C: Categorized as disorders that display anxious or fearful behaviors
Paranoid personality disorder
- Distrust and suspicion about others and their motives
- Perceiving non-threatening remarks or situations as hostile
- Belief that others intend harm or deception
- Persistent suspicion regarding others’ loyalty or faithfulness
- Inability to maintain relationships
Schizoid personality disorder
- Inability to take pleasure in most activities
- Lack of interest in relationships or social situations
- Appearing cold or indifferent towards others
- Inability to pick up on social cues
- Limited range of expression of emotions
Schizotypal personality disorder
- Unusual speech, behaviors, or thought patterns
- Belief that experiences have hidden messages intended for them
- Hearing voices
- Inappropriate emotional responses
- Belief that they have influence over people or events through thought
Antisocial personality disorder
- Lack of remorse
- Persistent lying or stealing
- Disregard for others’ feelings
- Aggressive, sometimes violent behavior
Borderline personality disorder
- Unstable relationships
- Intense, frequent feelings of anger
- Impulsive, unsafe behaviors
- Intense feelings of loneliness or emptiness
- Suicidal behavior
Narcissistic personality disorder
- Believe that they are more important than others
- Exaggeration of personal achievements
- Believe that others envy them
- Unreasonable expectations for others
- Desire for constant praise and admiration
Histrionic personality disorder
- Excessive concern about personal appearance
- Expresses strong opinions with little information or facts to back them up
- Excessively emotional or provocative to gain attention
- Believes relationships are closer than they really are
Avoidant personality disorder
- Incredibly sensitive to criticism or rejection
- Fear of embarrassment or ridicule
- Feels unattractive or inadequate
- Inhibited or timid
- Avoids activities involving social interaction or meeting new people
- Extreme shyness
Dependent personality disorder
- Extreme lack of self-confidence, especially when doing things alone
- Needs constant reassurance from others
- Tolerant of abusive behaviors and mistreatment
- Fear of being alone and needing care
- Difficulty being alone and feeling the urge to be in relationships
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Neglect of relationships in favor of commitment to tasks
- Perfectionism to the point of causing distress
- Inability to part with objects, even when they are broken or have no value
- Inflexible and stubborn
- Desire to maintain control over people, tasks, and responsibilities
Personality Disorders and Addiction Treatment
When a personality disorder and addiction exist simultaneously, treatment can become more complicated.
This is because both disorders must be treated simultaneously in order to be most effective. Failure to address both can increase the risk of relapse as mental health and addiction can create a complicated, dependent relationship.
Symptoms of addiction and personality disorders can often overlap which may make it difficult to identify their existence without proper assessment and treatment. In some cases, the existence of a personality disorder may not be determined until after a person enters treatment for addiction.
Treatment for personality disorders and addiction often requires the assistance of multiple specialists who can address the unique needs of the individual. While symptoms of addiction or mental health disorders alone can often be categorized and treated, their combination can introduce a unique set of needs that require individualized care. With the help of a therapist, psychiatrist, substance abuse specialists, and others, an effective treatment plan can be developed to help a person obtain sobriety.
Because of the unique nature of personality disorders, it is not uncommon for people to experience difficulty accepting treatment and trouble committing to the program until its completion. Providing effective dual-diagnosis care improves recovery outcomes, providing clients with education about their needs in order to help them cope with issues without self-medicating.
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.