Personality Disorder and Opiates: Understanding These Co-Occurring Disorders

personality disorder and opiates

Personality disorders affect many people throughout the United States. Likewise, individuals all over the country are struggling with opiate dependence. But what happens when personality disorder and opiates combine? What are the effects of this mixture and how can people seek help?

Substance dependence and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, one causes the other. But, regardless of the causes behind their development, co-occurring disorders should be professionally treated

Thankfully, those who suffer from the dual diagnosis of personality disorder and opiate dependence can find help and hope. With help from treatment centers such as ours here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, individuals can work through the effects of co-occurring disorders. 

Do you think you may have an opiate addiction while also dealing with the symptoms of personality disorder? If so, learning more about personality disorders and opiate dependence can help you to understand what’s happening in your life. It can also give you the guidance you need in order to get help for your dual diagnosis.

What is Personality Disorder? 

A personality disorder is a mental health disorder that affects the way people behave, think, and feel. However, before one can truly understand what a personality disorder is, it’s important to understand exactly what a personality is.

Everyone has a personality; it is the way an individual thinks, feels, and interacts with others. An individual’s personality shows itself in the way the individual communicates and expresses himself or herself. Your emotional responses, mental processes, and physical behaviors are all a part of your personality.

Generally speaking, personalities develop based on a person’s environment and experiences. Also, some aspects of a person’s personality may be inherited from other people, such as parents. Usually, personalities don’t really change much, although most individuals experience minor changes throughout their lives.

A personality disorder causes individuals to have cognitive and physical behaviors that are different than most others. Typically, those who have personality disorders do not behave according to what culture or society deems “normal”. But, much deeper than this, personality disorders affect the way an individual’s brain functions, thus, impacting the way people perceive things. 

There are many different types of personality disorders, each having different symptoms and characteristics. The different kinds of personality disorder can be placed into 3 different categories:

Cluster A – The personality disorders in these categories are characterized by eccentric behaviors.

Cluster B – The personality disorders in these categories are characterized by dramatic or unusual behaviors. Individuals with any of these disorders may be extremely emotional.

Cluster C – The personality disorders in these categories are characterized by anxious behaviors.

The Importance of Understanding Personality Disorders

Each one varies in symptoms and effects. Understanding these differences can help you to better identify what you are experiencing in your own life as you work through the effects of personality disorder. This knowledge can also help you to make an educated decision about where and how to get treatment.

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD)

This is a type of personality disorder that causes people to experience very high sensitivity to rejection or criticism. In many cases, those who have an avoidant personality disorder may constantly have feelings of inadequacy and the fear of not being liked. 

Some individuals who have an avoidant personality disorder struggle with poor self-image and low self-esteem. They may appear to be timid, shy, or reserved, especially in social settings.

Often, people with AVPD have difficulty making friends or maintaining relationships with others. They may be afraid to interact with others and exhibit signs of social awkwardness. Some may even become completely socially withdrawn.

It can be hard for people with an avoidant personality disorder to build close connections and relationships with family members and friends. Although they may want to feel close to these individuals, those with AVPD may not be able to do so. Fear of rejection, awkwardness, disapproval, or criticism may prevent this from happening.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

This type of personality disorder is characterized by an inability to regulate emotions. Instability and drastic changes in mood are both common signs of BPD. Also, those who have BPD may be impulsive and frequently exhibit intense anger. 

Many individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder have trouble maintaining relationships because of their emotional instability. BPD can also cause people to have a fluctuating self-image and sense of identity.

Those with BPD may also frequently feel bored or empty. Depressed moods and irritability may also occur often.

Often, people with borderline personality disorder experience an intense fear of abandonment. This can lead them to heavily depend on others. (This is another aspect that may lead to broken relationships.)

Sadly, many of those with BPD may attempt suicide multiple times. Some may also engage in self-destructive activities, including self-mutilation.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Individuals who have schizoid personality disorder are often very withdrawn and detached. They tend to spend very little time in social settings. Also, they may not show much emotion at all. In many cases, people with schizoid personality disorder have no desire to spend time with others or develop close interpersonal relationships. Instead, they prefer to spend time alone.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Those who have this disorder may feel a severe sense of anxiety when in social settings. They may feel very uncomfortable in their relationships with others. Paranoia is also a common characteristic of schizotypical personality disorder.

This type of personality disorder is characterized by what many might define as several different “peculiarities”. They may seem to dress, think, or speak in an abnormal or eccentric way. Sometimes, individuals who have schizotypical personality disorder may talk to themselves. In some cases, people with this disorder might have inappropriate or nonexistent responses while conversing with others.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Individuals who have antisocial personality disorder often appear to go against social norms, showing irresponsible and impulsivity instead. Antisocial personality disorder also tends to cause people to violate other people’s rights and ignore boundaries. It is also common for people with this disorder to have legal issues as they tend to avoid following rules or complying with expectations.

Individuals who have antisocial personality disorder may also be very aggressive or even cruel. Some may manipulate, deceive or exploit others. Often, those with antisocial personality disorder feel and show no sense of remorse, even if their behaviors harm others. 

An antisocial personality disorder is also characterized by recklessness and instability. Individuals may lack concern for their own safety in addition to the safety of others. Arrogance, intense anger, confrontation, theft, and dishonesty are all characteristics of this disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can cause people to experience an excessive desire for perfection. This often leads to a lack of satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Individuals with this disorder may constantly feel the need to have order and perfection. This can cause them to obsess over having control. Individuals may also focus intently on details, to the point of excess. 

OCPD is also characterized by difficulty in emotional expression. Those who have this disorder may find it hard to talk about how they feel. They may also have trouble maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. 

Despite the hardworking nature of many people who have OCPD, it’s common to see inefficiency because of an obsession with perfection. Also, many people who suffer from an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder often encounter feelings of anxiety. Some also deal with depressed moods, too.

People who have OCPD may struggle to share responsibilities with others, fearing that things will not be done perfectly. Hoarding may also occur in the lives of those who have an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. 

A rigid and inflexible devotion to rules, minor details, morals, and beliefs is also a characteristic of OCPD. This often makes it impossible or, at least, extremely difficult for people with this disorder to adapt. 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Individuals who have a histrionic personality disorder often experience an excessive need to get attention from others. They may go to great lengths to obtain it. Those who have this disorder may also show intense and excessive emotions. These emotions may even appear to be exaggerated at times.

Attention-seeking behaviors are characteristics of this personality disorder. Individuals may be seductive, flirtatious, or charming in order to gain the attention of others. Sometimes, people who have a histrionic personality disorder may be manipulative or impulsive.

Often, people with this disorder do not shy away from social environments. They tend to enjoy being lively and often have a personality that causes people to pay attention to them. Unfortunately, the need to be accepted and have attention often causes people who have this disorder to be impressionable and gullible. People may take advantage of this and bring harm to these individuals. 

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Individuals who have a paranoid personality disorder often have an intense distrust of others. Paranoia often occurs in the lives of those who have this disorder. Individuals may have an untrue view of others, assuming that well-meaning individuals are “out to get them”. They may feel that the people around them only want to take advantage of them or mistreat them in some other way. 

This can prevent people from becoming emotionally close to others. It can keep them from feeling comfortable in social environments. These thoughts can also stand in the way of close family relationships. Individuals may regularly be suspicious of people without any reason. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

As the name might imply, this disorder is characterized by an excessive and unhealthy sense of self-importance. Individuals who have this disorder are often narcissistic in nature, giving little thought to the value of others.

Impulsivity and self-entitlement often occur in the lives of those who have this disorder. Individuals who have a narcissistic personality disorder often have no empathy and do not tend to connect well with others.

Still, however, individuals who have this disorder tend to seek after the approval of others. Although they often experience an inflated sense of self-worth, they also frequently have feelings of insecurity. 

Many people who have NPD experience self-pointed anger, guilt, and shame. But, at other times, they experience self-admiration and an unhealthy sense of self-confidence. 

NPD can prevent people from building and holding healthy relationships with others. This disorder can also limit an individual’s ability to work well with coworkers, which can cause work-related issues. 

Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)

This personality disorder is characterized by a “clingy” personality. Individuals who have a dependent personality disorder tend to depend on others to care for them, even when they do not necessarily need care. 

Often, those who have DPD exhibit a fear of separation and a severe sense of anxiety. People with a dependent personality disorder may depend on other people to make decisions for them These decisions include even the most common, everyday choices. They may heavily rely on the reassurance of other people.

DPD can cause people to feel helpless or hopeless whenever they are alone because they so heavily depend on the care of others. People with DPD often avoid responsibility and do not have much self-confidence. 

Individuals who have a dependent personality disorder often have a very high sensitivity to criticism and disapproval. These can have a crushing impact on individuals with DPD. 

Finally, people who have a dependent personality disorder may not feel able to live in singlehood. Their inability to have a healthy romantic relationship may cause many separations in their lives. But, once one relationship is over, those who have DPD are likely to rush into a new relationship for fear of being alone. 

What Exactly Are Opiate Drugs?

Opiates are substances that are derived from the opium poppy plant. Though many of them are legal and medically prescribed, opiate drugs are known to be extremely addictive. Opiate drugs have the ability to reduce or eliminate pain. This category includes opioids, which are drugs that have an effect that is similar to the effect of opiates.

These drugs work by binding to certain receptors in the brain. When they do so, they stop those receptors and, ultimately, the rest of the body from experiencing pain. In a way, these drugs imitate the effects of naturally-produced pain-reducing chemicals in the body. 

Since opiates and opioids are so powerful, users may begin to depend on these substances for pain relief. Some individuals may use prescription painkillers more often than their doctors recommend. Or they may take higher doses. Others may even begin to use opiates even when they are not experiencing pain in an attempt to feel the euphoric effects of these drugs.

There are several Schedule II opiates and opioids, including OxyContin, Dilaudid, morphine, and Percocet. Medical professionals may advise patients to use these substances in order to treat pain symptoms.

There are also illicit, Schedule I forms of opioids. Heroin is among these drugs and it has certainly affected many individuals to date. 

Sadly, countless people have struggled with opiate and opioid dependence. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), data from 2018 shows that, daily, 128 fatalities occur due to opioid overdoses. 

Many people feel that illicit opioids such as heroin are more dangerous than prescription opiates. But, data says differently. NIDA reports that 21-29% of those who use prescription painkillers for chronic pain misuse these drugs. Between 8% and 12% develop opioid use disorders. Finally, approximately 80% of the individuals who suffer from heroin dependence misused prescription opioids first.

Personality Disorder and Opiates: The Impact of Co-Occurring Disorder

Unfortunately, many people suffer from addiction in addition to mental health disorders. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders may include any number of disorders. Some people may suffer from alcoholism and depression. Others may struggle with anxiety and opiate dependence. Also, some people suffer from the effects of the dangerous combination of personality disorder and opiates.

Those who are dealing with this combination may encounter very serious effects. When a personality disorder and opiates combine, the impact may be life-altering. For some people, drug dependence can amplify the symptoms of a personality disorder. The opposite is also true for many; sometimes, the symptoms of a personality disorder can make increase the severity of substance dependence.

It’s important to note that substance dependence brings its own effects to people’s lives. For example, it often causes people to become isolated. It can also prevent people from functioning normally. It may cause work-related issues, family problems, financial hardship, and much more.

Living with a mental health disorder can certainly be challenging, especially in cases where people do not have professional guidance. When addiction becomes a part of the equation, individuals will most certainly experience tremendous difficulty. 

Do I Need Help From a Dual Diagnosis Program?

If you are living with co-occurring disorders, it is undeniably important for you to get help from a dual diagnosis treatment program. There are several reasons for this, but mainly, it is often ineffective to treat only one disorder while others are present. 

In simpler terms, addressing addiction without addressing a co-occurring mental health disorder is likely not helpful. This is because, in most cases, addiction and mental health disorders interact with one another. They affect each other’s symptoms. Again, substance use can intensify the symptoms of mental illness. Likewise, the symptoms people experience as a result of mental illness can cause them to drink or use drugs more and more.

If a treatment program addresses only addiction without dealing with a person’s mental health disorder, those symptoms will still affect him or her. Even if the individual overcomes substance dependence, he or she may relapse in an attempt to cope with the effects of mental illness. 

On the other hand, it’s unlikely that a person will be able to manage the symptoms of a mental health disorder without ending substance use.

Fortunately, however, a dual diagnosis program can address both co-occurring disorders. So, those who are dealing with mental health disorders along with substance dependence can get the help they need through this type of treatment program.

Contact Sana Lake Recovery Center Today

Addiction and mental health are both very serious matters. Those who suffer from substance dependence should seek professional help immediately. Likewise, individuals who are living with mental health disorders should reach out to professionals who can offer guidance and resources in order to help treat the symptoms of mental illness.

Co-occurring disorders can be problematic, disrupting normal, day-to-day life. Functionality in every area of life can be altered because of addiction and mental illness. This often leaves people feeling helpless and alone. But, there is good news! Individuals who are suffering from the effects of dual diagnoses can receive treatment and find their way to a healthier life!

Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, our purpose is to bring healing to those who are dealing with substance use disorders and mental health disorders. We believe that hope can be found in even the most difficult and challenging situations. 

Our staff is full of clinically trained professionals who want nothing less than happiness and contentment for you. Your healing and freedom from substance use and mental health disorders is our mission.

At Sana Lake, we believe that your freedom is the first step to creating a full and happy life for yourself and, ultimately, a more thriving community!

Our principles include honesty, hope, and integrity. So, you can rest assured that we will keep your health and recovery first, making your journey our priority. Also, our facility is a place where you can find the courage to take on the challenges and experience the victories of recovery.

Allow our team of certified specialists to walk with you on the road to an addiction-free, mentally healthy life! We will be with you every step of the way, offering inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Make today the first day of the best days of your life; begin your recovery now! Just contact us to start your journey.

References:

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders

https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/personality-disorder

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000921.htm

https://iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/OCPD-Fact-Sheet.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542325/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819598/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescriptionopioids

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.