Personality Disorders

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personality-disorderWhat are Personality Disorders?

The term “personality disorders” is used to cover a variety of mental health problems that affect an individual’s thoughts and behavior. These mental disorders are characterized by maladaptive behavior patterns, cognitive and emotional distortions, and problematic inner experience.People who are deemed to have a personality disorder are likely to experience significant professional, personal, and social disruptions. Professional treatment is often needed to tackle these complex problems.

Personality disorders are organized into three clusters - A,B and C
Cluster A personality disorders are represented by odd and erratic thoughts or behavior. They include:
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

Cluster B include dramatic, highly emotional and unpredictable thoughts or behavior. They include:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder

Finally, cluster C holds those disorders that are characterized by feelings of fear and anxiety.  They include:

What is the Relationship between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse?

Individuals with mental health issues are approximately twice as likely to be suffering from an addiction, when compared to the general population. Some evidence suggests that these individuals use the addictive substances in an attempt to manage the symptoms of their condition. This can then lead to an addiction, adding to their severity of their condition. Whereas in other circumstances, periods of prolonged drug or alcohol abuse has the ability to onset mental illness.

This is not to say women do not suffer from co-occurring disorders, but men most often struggle with antisocial personality disorder. This is a mental health condition that causes aggressive and often violent behavior.

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

Mental health issues are often at the heart of addiction. Unfortunately, these issues can seriously complicate the addiction treatment process. Therefore, it is important that treatment facilities do a full assessment of each individual to determine if patients need mental health care in accordance with the substance abuse treatment process. Programs in which both disorders are treated simultaneously are known as dual diagnosis treatment programs. A dual diagnosis is the simultaneous existence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.

For individuals who have both personality disorder and addiction, a conventional treatment program may not be the most effective option. As the addictive substance is removed from the body during detox, a number of different reactions can surface that will make conventional therapies more challenging. A dual diagnosis treatment program will assess the individual immediately on intake and will monitor them carefully during detox to determine if additional treatment modalities are needed. When the individual receives appropriate treatment for the personality disorder, he or she is better able to participate fully in the treatment program that will help them overcome the addiction.

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Personality Disorder and Addictionpersonality-disorder-and-addiction

Individuals with personality disorders are highly vulnerable to developing an addiction because they are constantly dealing with troublesome thought patterns, emotions and behaviors. They often turn to alcohol or drugs in order to temporarily block out these patterns or prevent them from engaging in unacceptable behaviors.

Treating just the addiction will not get to the core of the problem. Only through finding the root cause of the dual diagnosis can addicts find the relief they need to manage the everyday challenges of recovery. This is often done through intensive counseling, behavioral training, contingency management and, in some cases, carefully monitored medication management as well.

Treating the Issues

In dual diagnosis programs, individuals with personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder must learn to understand the underlying emotions and thought patterns behind their behavior. Counseling can help them to work through past issues that may have contributed to trouble in relationships or in other social settings. Dialectical behavioral therapy trains individuals in mindfulness of their thinking, so that they are free to gain more control over their decision-making process and achieve desired outcomes. These therapies can also help with relapse prevention. Relapse prevention involves learning to recognize triggers for substance use and implementing strategies that promote long-term sobriety

What is the Importance of Aftercare?

An effective dual diagnosis program must provide adequate support for individuals with personality disorders who are simultaneously combating addiction. Continued dialectical behavioral therapy can help these individuals become more aware of the thought patterns that may cause them to engage in the negative behaviors that can cause relapse into substance use. Support groups also play a critical part in encouraging addicts to maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Addiction support groups specializing in those with personality disorders and other mental health problems are vital in the long term success of these individuals.

Stop the struggle with personality disorder and addiction today. Contact dual diagnosis professionals to learn about programs that can help you to manage the symptoms of personality disorder as you learn to overcome your addiction once and for all.


  1. Abuse, N. I. (2014, January 03). Severe mental illness tied to higher rates of substance use. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). How common are comorbid drug use and other mental disorders? Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  3. Personality disorders and substance use [PDF]. (n.d.).

Last updated on June 21st, 2017 at 04:39 pm

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