Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

When an individual is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) they're emotions are unstable for long periods of time and they have a hard time relating to people in general. Many people suffering with BPD have hectic and chaotic relationships with other people and they're behaviors and the way they act appears to be impulsive. Some people with BPD display self-harming behaviors and hurt themselves.

No one knows for sure what causes borderline personality disorder but there could be genetic, family or social factors involved. Some of the risk factors associated with BPD are abandonment issues during an individual's adolescence or childhood, a disrupted family life, communication problems in their family or sexual abuse. It's very common for a person with a personality disorder like BPD to have had disturbing or traumatic experiences that took place in their life when they were younger.

BPD Symptoms Can Include

Self-damaging impulsive behaviors like substance abuse, risky sex, spending money, and eating disorders like binge eating just to name a few.

  1. They have trouble compromising
  2. Extreme flare-ups of uncontrollable anxiety, depression or anger
  3. Driving recklessly
  4. They constantly feel empty inside
  5. Unstable image of themselves

Individuals who suffer from BPD can show very extreme behaviors like self-mutilation or overdosing on medications. There are many reasons for this kind of behavior, some people suffering with borderline personality disorder are afraid of being abandoned or their own identity may be dependent on someone else. These dangerous behaviors could be desperate attempts to evade imagined or real abandonment issues. Unfortunately many times these behaviors are not seen as a desperate cry for help which is usually what they are. They're instead looked at as manipulative or seen as of way of getting attention from others.

When a person has a borderline personality disorder their emotions and feelings about other people are generally taken to extremes and can bounce back and forth. Meaning one day their thoughts about a person can be high and good and the next day they may look down on that same person and find nothing good to say about them.

When a person is suffering from BPD they're very unhappy inside, some people will look for ways to make themselves feel better so they self-medicate themselves with alcohol or other substances. Depression is very common and without a proper diagnosis and treatment the individual could risk overdosing because everything they do is taken to extreme.

Borderline personality disorder is different from other serious mental health issues like bipolar disorder, individuals suffering with bipolar can have mood swings that last for long extended periods of time. BPD mood symptoms can change daily or several times throughout the day which can cause major problems with family, friends, co-workers and personal relationships.

As stated above there are many unstable risky behaviors that can develop due to symptoms of BPD if the individual doesn't seek medical attention and therapy in order to manage their symptoms. Not only is treatment available for anyone suffering with borderline personality disorder, treatment has greatly improved over the past few years.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

Individual and group psychotherapy is a somewhat effective form of treatment for many people suffering with BPD but not all. Psychosocial treatment is also referred to as 'dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), this form of therapy was specially developed for treating people with BPD. It's also common for a person suffering with BPD to be treated with medications that would target specific symptoms a patient may have. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers can also be helpful for depressed or labile mood. Patients may also be given antipsychotic drugs if there are distortions in their thinking.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT

DBT focuses on helping patients modify their way of thinking and the way they behave. Patients learn to accept themselves for who they are but also recognize their destructive thinking and coping methods. When patients recognize their negative thinking and behaviors and learn healthier thinking and behavior skills patients can go on and have a much better quality of life.

DBT is a mixture of behaviorism, CBT which is cognitive behavioral therapy, and Zen Buddhism. Marsha Linehan, Ph.D developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy and she sums up the philosophy of DBT as "You're perfect-now change".

Dialectical behavior therapy is a very recognized form of treatment for people with multiple and severe psychosocial disorders which includes individuals that are chronically suicidal. Many individuals with multiple or severe psychosocial disorders also have substance use disorders (SUDs). A form of DBT was also developed for treating substance abusers that is designed to promote abstinence and reduce the length and adverse impact of relapses.

Sadly today there are a lot of people suffering with alcohol or drug addiction and don't even realize they also have BPD. If you or someone you know exhibits some of the behaviors mentioned above it's crucial that treatment and therapy is sought. Without help anyone suffering with borderline personality disorder is miserable and it doesn't get better on its own. Treatment for mental health issues and addiction have come a long way, with treatment a person can learn to manage their symptoms and sometimes they can even be eliminated.

Websites Used
Medline Plus
Better Health Channel

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    can many people with bpd manage to find work and hold it down for length of time my brother was diagnosed with it but reading this page if anyone id of had bpd i was abandoned many times though out child hood he always stayed with me mum i was abused also around 5 yrs love and affection wasn't shown to me but loads to my brother he was always the favorite i've witnessed mum being beaten up and a few overdose attempts where my brother was to young to remember i feel he has overheard conversations of past issues and made images in his head and believed who he was seeing and thinking was how it was i don't like to get close to anyone as fear rejection feeling empty i have done for years also been on and of depression pills for 12yrs and never can explain my own feelings or confused my feeling towards others substances use I've had issues with but I'm not one to seek out for attention of others prefer not to be noticed i think i should get myself to a group to find out.

    • Addict

      There are a few different levels of bipolar disorder. A lot of people do great but anyone with strong symptoms has a hard time getting along with people. If that is the case then they would definitely have a hard time holding and keeping a job. No employer is not going to put up with an uncontrollable employee with a bad attitude.

      People with strong symptoms usually smoke, drink and a lot of times use drugs to make themselves feel better, be happy and be able to enjoy life.

Leave a comment


To protect the integrity of our site all comments are reviewed prior to being shown, we apologize for the small delay, but this brings a better experience for our readers. SPAM & rude comments are not tolerated. Using the 'Connect with Facebook' option will get your comment up faster!

Contact A Substance Abuse Counselor

We help people take the first steps toward getting help for their drug and alcohol usage and having drug-free lifestyles. To contact an alcohol/drug abuse counselor, please call 1-800-591-6474(Info iconWho Answers?).

Socialize with us
Close Icon

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.