Rage. Instability. Mood swings. Impulsivity. These characteristics make people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) prone to substance abuse as well as over-spending, promiscuity, eating disorders and other compulsive behaviors. In fact, studies suggest that 50 to 70 percent of those with BPD also have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Addicts with co-occurring borderline personality disorder are known as some of the most difficult patients to treat. Here are a few of the most common challenges, along with insights into the most effective research-based treatments:
Addicts with BPD have been described as both treatment demanding and treatment resistant. Research shows more positive outcomes the longer an addict with BPD stays in treatment, yet keeping them in treatment is no easy task. In a study of patients in a detox program, those with BPD were significantly more likely to have an unplanned discharge than those without BPD.
While a number of treatments have proven effective for BPD, therapies for BPD patients with co-occurring substance abuse are less established. Studies suggest that the most promising treatments include dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic approaches. A combination of support and management from an experienced dual diagnosis treatment center can improve retention rates, along with ongoing involvement in self-help groups such as AA and NA.