Personality Disorder

In many cases, a person who is dealing with a substance use issue may also suffer from a personality disorder. When this happens, it means that the individual is living with co-occurring disorders (multiple disorders that affect a person at the same time).

Your personality sets you apart from others.  It is your specific way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  Personality comes from inherited traits but is also influenced by one’s environment and experiences.  Having a personality disorder means that a person’s way of thinking, feeling, and behaving contradicts with cultural expectations.  It can cause distress and prohibits functioning over time. There are different types of personality disorders.

The behavioral patterns start during late adolescence or early adulthood.  Struggling with a personality disorder can also lead to a substance abuse disorder. Battling both a mental health condition, like a personality disorder, and a substance abuse problem is known as dual-diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our healthcare professionals can treat your personality disorder and substance abuse problem simultaneously.

Different Types of Personality Disorder

There are ten known types of personality disorders:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder– A disregard of the rights of others.  A person battling this specific type may not conform to social norms and deceive others without guilt.  Sufferers from this disorder tend to act impulsively, exhibit violent behavior, and no concern for safety for themselves or others.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – A person will have feelings of inadequacy and be sensitive to criticism or rejection.  They don’t feel that they are good enough and limit their involvement with others unless it’s inevitable they will be liked.  People with an avoidant personality disorder also avoid work activities that require interpersonal contact and can be socially inhibited.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – They will have a history of unstable personal relationships, show intense emotions, and have a poor self-image.  They also show impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unprotected sex, gambling, or binge eating. A person may go to great lengths to avoid abandonment, or attempt suicide multiple times.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder – Shows a pattern of clinginess and submissive behavior.  They have difficulty making decisions without seeking reassurance from others.  People with this specific disorder have a fear of providing self-care or defending themselves if left alone.  They may also have difficulty starting or doing projects on their own due to a lack of self-confidence.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder – A person will have a history of excessive emotion and constant seeking of attention.  They may use their physical appearance to draw attention to themselves. A person with this specific disorder may be easily influenced by others, have shallow, rapidly changing emotions, and perceives relationships with others to be closer than they are.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Shows a need for admiration and has a lack of empathy for others.  They exhibit a grandiose sense of self-importance, entitlement, and take advantage of others.  Sufferers may also fantasize about power, success, and attractiveness. They also tend to have unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder – A person with this disorder is preoccupied with orderliness, perfection, and control.  They are a perfectionist. They are extremely focused on details or schedules and opts to work excessively instead of spending time with friends.  They can be rigid and stubborn and have no flexibility in their morality, ethics, or values.
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder – A pattern of being suspicious of others and viewing them as mean or spiteful.  They believe that others want to harm or deceive them, so they avoid confiding in others.  People with paranoid personality disorder can also perceive innocent remarks or non-threatening situations as personal insults or attacks.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder – Seeks isolation and is detached from social relationships and expressing little emotion.  They choose not to have close relationships. Individuals with this particular disorder can exhibit difficulty in picking up normal social cues, appear cold or indifferent to others, and have little to no interest in sex with another person.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder – A pattern of being very uncomfortable in close relationships and exhibits distorted thinking and eccentric behavior.  They can have odd beliefs, behavior, or speech, and may even experience extreme social anxiety. Sufferers can also have “magical thinking” where they believe they can influence people or situations with their thoughts.

As you can see, personality disorders come in multiple forms and affect the individual differently.  All personality disorders affect at least two of the following areas:

  • Your way of thinking about yourself and others
  • Your emotional responses
  • How you relate to other people
  • Controlling your behavior

Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Past research has shown that between 65 percent and 90 percent of patients with a personality disorder had at least one co-occurring substance use disorder.  When looking at the list of personality disorders, they are grouped into three clusters, A, B, and C. Cluster A includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.  Cluster B disorders, such as antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic, are linked with illegal drugs, like cocaine. Cluster B types have the most evidence of a link to substance abuse because this group involves individuals that act more impulsively, which is a risk when it comes to being susceptible to addiction.  Cluster C disorders, which include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, show a higher degree of alcohol dependence.

Suffering from a drug or alcohol abuse issue won’t cause you to have a personality disorder, but having an addiction is a leading factor in the development and effects of many personality disorders.  Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience reports that about 66 percent of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder show a psychological dependency on drugs, alcohol, or both.  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that people with issues of aggression and a lack of empathy that accompany an antisocial personality disorder have a higher risk of alcohol abuse than the general population.


Treatment starts with an official diagnosis from a doctor or a medical healthcare professional.  Due to the complexity and relationship of personality disorders, an accurate diagnosis can be a complicated process.  Some symptoms of these disorders are the same as signs of drug addiction. One disease can overshadow the other. In some cases, like a borderline personality disorder, the person is anti-social and manipulative, which makes it hard to work with them when it comes to treatment.

Addressing the co-occurring personality and substance use disorders are essential to recovery.  Treating one condition and not the other is not effective in the healing process. If you or your loved one would like to seek treatment for personality disorder and substance abuse, take the first step today by speaking with one of our representatives. You can also read more about our treatment options for co-occurring disorders and learn about our rehabilitation center.