Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the most common – and one of the most serious – of all personality disorders. More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with BPD, and many experts believe the number of undiagnosed cases is even higher.
People with borderline personality disorder frequently suffer from substance abuse, eating disorders and other impulsive behaviors. Research has shown that two-thirds of people with BPD abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate as they struggle to cope with their emotional pain.
The symptoms of BPD and substance abuse are very similar: self-destructive actions, extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, troubled personal relationships and risky, dangerous behavior. This can make it difficult to diagnose the two conditions separately. The misuse of drugs and alcohol can make the erratic behavior of people with BPD even more extreme, and it is often a challenge to get them to enter rehab and complete treatment.
People with BPD often have feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness, have trouble feeling empathy for others, have a persistent, ongoing fear of being abandoned, and are often hostile toward those around them.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has determined that if five of these criteria are met, a person is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder:
The Mayo Clinic recently issued a report that cites several factors that may contribute to BPD:
Dialectical behavior therapy was designed specifically for helping people with borderline personality disorder and is the cornerstone of treatment for BPD. This therapy helps people learn how to recognize toxicity within interpersonal relationships (from themselves and others) and maintain healthy relationships. As part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program, It stresses the importance of remaining mindful of self-regulating your emotions without resorting to self-harming or using drugs or alcohol.