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About Borderline Personality Disorder

About 1.7% of the population suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD represents a problem in emotional regulation. Those with BPD may experience sudden shifts in their mood and temperament. Likewise, BPD makes it hard for a person to develop a sense of self. When BPD co-occurs with a substance use disorder, it can produce devastating effects. Individuals with BPD also demonstrate a high likelihood of suicide. Nevertheless, people with BPD and co-occurring substance abuse disorders can (and do) thrive.

More information on borderline personality disorder:

  • Diagnosis and symptoms
  • Possible causes of BPD
  • BPD and substance use disorder
  • Treatment for co-occurring substance use disorder and BPD
  • Next steps

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Someone with BPD harbors a pronounced fear of abandonment. They have difficulty maintaining stable relationships. They may feel intense love, and then intense hatred, for a person. This emotional pivoting might happen without warning. Often, BPD sufferers react with extreme anger to otherwise “normal” problems.

Identity

Those with BPD have a hard time with their identity. They do not establish a strong sense of self. Their goals, principles, and morals tend to waver. As such, they often sabotage themselves. They undo much of their own lives. Someone with BPD might frequently feel empty. As though they, as a person, have no substance.

Impulsivity

Because of their unstable moods, people with BPD tend to make impulsive decisions. They act without thinking. Their actions appear out of proportion to the events at hand. A person with BPD might insult and yell at someone they care about. Later, they may express guilt and fear that the person will leave them.

Other impulsive actions might include:

  • Driving recklessly
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Gambling
  • Spending too much money
  • Using/abusing drugs or alcohol

Emotional Sensitivity

People with BPD feel emotions deeply. They may experience joy and happiness just like anyone else. And for them, these feelings will seem incredibly intense. Moreover, these kinds of feelings may last for long periods of time. But this kind of emotional sensitivity can have negative consequences as well. Someone with BPD might feel enraged whereas someone else might just express annoyance. For a person afflicted with BPD, normal stressors produce abnormally emotional responses.

Emotional Sensitivity

People with BPD feel emotions deeply. They may experience joy and happiness just like anyone else. And for them, these feelings will seem incredibly intense. Moreover, these kinds of feelings may last for long periods of time. But this kind of emotional sensitivity can have negative consequences as well. Someone with BPD might feel enraged whereas someone else might just express annoyance. For a person afflicted with BPD, normal stressors produce abnormally emotional responses.

Possible Causes Of BPD

As with all mental illnesses, borderline personality disorder has several possible causes. Genetics play a role. One can inherit BPD. The structure of one’s brain also has implications for BPD. Certain parts of the brain, like the hippocampus and amygdala, may have different sizes. These kinds of differences in the brain will affect how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.

We must also regard childhood development. Early life experiences can set the trajectory for the rest of our lives. Physical and sexual abuse, especially in childhood, become important factors for BPD. A neglectful or abusive parent can instill a fear of abandonment. This fear of abandonment may manifest later in life as BPD.

Note that these different factors influence one another. A traumatic experience can shape the brain. Or, it may aggravate a previously-existing brain abnormality. Also, a person’s genetics to not dictate who they will become in life. Think of these “causes” as pieces of a puzzle. They all connect and relate to one another. In so doing, the pieces form something bigger than themselves.

BPD And Substance Use Disorder

People with borderline personality disorder have trouble regulating their emotions. They may not exercise appropriate reasoning or judgment. Impulsivity, a symptom of BPD, can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Substance abuse constitutes one such behavior.

Substance Abuse vs. Substance Use Disorder

Substance abuse means consuming a substance in unhealthy way. But the term does not just refer to illegal drugs. People abuse their own prescriptions as well. A few examples of substance abuse include:

  • Taking medication not prescribed to you
  • Consuming more than the recommended dose
  • Pairing medication with alcohol
  • Using medication recreationally (i.e. for the purpose of getting high)
  • Consuming in a manner other than the one prescribed (i.e. snorting instead of swallowing)

The more frequently a person abuses a substance, the more they risk falling into substance use disorder (SUD). At this point, a person has become dependent on a particular substance. They cannot function properly without it.

If deprived of the substance, the person will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance. Minor symptoms include irritability and trouble sleeping. But some withdrawal symptoms, as with benzodiazepines, can become fatal.

Can Have BPD and SUD at the Same Time?

Yes, a person with borderline personality disorder can also have substance use disorder. Researchers call this comorbidity. You may also come across the terms “dual diagnosis,” or “co-occurring disorder.” A person in such a dilemma ought to seek evidence-based treatment. Such treatment would address both disorders simultaneously.

Treatment For Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder And BPD

Southeast Addiction offers treatment for dual diagnoses in Georgia. Just one of these disorders makes life incredibly hard. But two might make it seem insurmountable. But we have witnessed clients overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. It took time, effort, and uncomfortable conversations. But nevertheless, a person with co-occurring disorders can lead a full, complete life.

Recovering From SUD And BPD

Medication plays a role in recovery. Some treatment plans implement medication to help decrease cravings (as in opioid addiction). Medication may also help to relieve feelings of anxiety and depression.

Along with medication, various therapy options exist as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help one separate oneself from one’s thoughts. Additionally, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) shows promise in helping people cope with BPD.

Next Steps

One does not have to live in seclusion because of borderline personality disorder. Isolating oneself will only make the situation worse. Do not wait any longer to seek the life you deserve. Become honest and vulnerable with yourself. You made it this far. Now you’ve only one more important step to take.

If you or someone that you love struggles with substance use disorder, do not wait for help. Get help now. Contact Southeast Addiction in Georgia.

Contact Us and Get Help Now

Southeast Addiction Center exists for one purpose: to help addicts establish sustainable recovery.

Contact us via email at
[email protected]

3020 Holcomb Bridge Rd
Suite C
Norcross GA 30071

3507 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209