We’ve touched on the role of co-occurring mental health disorders in the development of an addiction, and the most common combinations of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Understanding how your mental health contributes to substance abuse is key to unraveling the deep-rooted causes of addiction and beginning your healing process. To help, we’re deep diving into how specific co-occurring mental health disorders can lead to addiction and how they impact your recovery, beginning with Borderline Personality Disorder.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
For people who have never experienced Borderline Personality Disorder, understanding this disorder of extremes is difficult to understand. People with BPD are often called dangerous, attention seekers, or even fakers, which only serves to make symptoms worse. The reality is that living with Borderline Personality Disorder is a lot like being at the heart of an intense, emotional tornado. While this mental health disorder affects everyone differently, symptoms of BPD include:
- Fear of abandonment, real or imagined
- Patterns of unstable and intense relationships
- Issues with identity and self-worth
- Impulsive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts and ideation
- Self-harm or thoughts thereof
- Emotional instability
- Feelings of dissociation and “emptiness”
- Stress induced anxiety and paranoia
- Inappropriate, intense emotional reactions
Understanding how deeply Borderline Personality Disorder affects all aspects of your life makes it easier to understand why so many with this mental health disorder turn to self-medication through drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately the compulsivity and emotional instability aspects of BPD can cause substance dependency and addiction to develop quickly. The roots of addiction for people with have Borderline Personality Disorder run deeply and require dual treatment to learn to thrive beyond substance abuse.
Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction
People with Borderline Personality Disorder who turn to illicit substances as a means of coping do so in an attempt to quiet the storm. Alcohol abuse is prevalent among people with BPD because it serves as a depressant for raging emotions and allows one to relax and breathe peacefully. For this same reason, people living with Borderline Personality Disorder may also become dependent on marijuana or harder drugs like heroin.
Abuse of these substance by someone with BPD face increased risks of overdose, intentional or otherwise. In recovery, they may face a heightened risk of relapse during emotionally challenging moments. Other unforeseen symptoms of co-occurring BPD and substance abuse disorders include:
- Increased severity of mood swings
- Anxiety attacks and paranoia
- Heightened risks of suicide
- Increase in risky, compulsive behaviors
How Borderline Personality Disorder Affects Your Recovery
Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder may seem like being trapped into a box. Those living with BPD often feel invalidated or unheard because others who don’t understand tend to blame their thoughts and feelings on their diagnosis. Having Borderline Personality Disorder does not negate the validity of your thoughts and emotions. It does, however, require you to be responsible for proactively protecting your mental health.
This actually lends well into your recovery from addiction. People with Borderline Personality Disorder are incredibly empathetic and in-tune with their emotions, which helps the process of uncovering the roots of addiction. While facing those more difficult emotions is a challenge, doing so helps build a solid foundation for you future. Both BPD and and addiction recovery leans on gaining beneficial coping mechanisms and life skills to promote a better means of living. Rather than suffering from these conditions, learning to strive is the greatest gift you can give yourself.