Personality disorders and addiction are two threads that intertwine in the intricate weave of human behavior. They are significant problems affecting millions worldwide, and coupling them complicates treatment and recovery. 

Read on to explore the connection between personality disorders and addiction, and learn why addressing both is crucial for successful substance abuse treatment.

The Two-Sided Coin: The Connection between Personality Disorders and Addiction

Let us begin by exploring the terms’ definitions:

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders entail patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviate significantly from those expected within an individual’s culture, manifesting over time.

Personality disorders may impair someone’s ability to function or maintain relationships.

Some common examples include:


Addiction is a chronic disease wherein an individual compulsively seeks out substances or behaviors even when experiencing harmful outcomes because of it. 

Addiction can take many forms, like substance abuse (drugs or alcohol) and behavioral addictions (gambling, shopping). Having grasped their basic concepts, let us now go deeper into the connection between personality disorders and addiction and explore how they influence one another.

The Tangled Yarns: Where Addiction Meets with Personalities Disorders 

Both personality disorders, along with addiction, possess some similar elements about them:

  • Impulsiveness: These two diseases make individuals behave impulsively without any thought of what would happen next.
  • Emotion dysregulation: Those with personality disorders suffer intense emotions, while people with an addiction use drugs or other substances or behaviors to deal with them.
  • Bad decision-making: These two diseases also interfere with a person’s ability to make sound judgments, causing them to make dangerous choices.
  • Difficulty in creating relationships: Both disorders make it challenging for individuals to understand how to behave in numerous situations to maintain friendly ties. 
  • Engagement in risky activities is typical for both categories, such as self-destruction and involvement in life-threatening undertakings.

Research has found considerable overlap between these two conditions.

A study concluded that individuals with personality disorders were four times more likely than those without it to have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

This creates a dangerous cycle in which one condition worsens another. 

It is important to note that not all people with personality disorders will develop addictions and vice versa.

Unraveling the Complexities: Addressing the Link

Given the intricate relationship between personality disorders and addiction, both problems must be treated simultaneously. This may include:

  • Integrated Treatment Plans: Substance dependence treatment protocols (e.g., detox programs, medications, and counseling) are combined with therapeutic strategies for Personality Disorders (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy).
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers: They specialize in treating patients who suffer from co-occurring mental illnesses as well as substance-related disorders by offering comprehensive care.
  • Support Groups: People who have been affected by this condition can always go back to those who understand them.
  • Trauma-informed care: Because both types of mental health problems are often precipitated by trauma experienced earlier in life, addressing these underlying issues within therapy sessions is vital.

It is vital, therefore, that those with dual diagnoses be provided with long-term support and aftercare. This recovery can take a lifetime and may need continuous treatment and care.

The Way to Break the Stigma

Unfortunately, individuals who are diagnosed with dual diagnosis are usually subjected to stigmatization as well as discrimination. 

They might experience a stigma of being seen as weak or morally corrupt, thereby discouraging them from seeking help. 

It is essential to end this stigma so that there can be an understanding and sympathy toward those having concurring disorders.

Breaking the stigma can involve:

  • Education: Educating the public on the complex nature of dual diagnosis makes it a legitimate medical condition, hence reducing stigma.
  • Sympathy: One way to better comprehend these struggles is by putting oneself into the shoes of an individual with a dual diagnosis while refraining from judging and instead providing support.
  • Support: If resources are available to people who have a dual diagnosis, they will feel supported and have the power to seek medical attention.

SOBA NJ: The Light toward Recovery and Healing for Personality Disorders and Addictions

Are you struggling with personality disorders and addiction? SOBA NJ is a New Jersey drug and alcohol rehab that could show you the path out of darkness into recovery. We offer dual diagnosis treatment in New Jersey and a long-term drug and alcohol rehab program.

Contact us now for comprehensive care, including detox, outpatient, and residential treatment programs.