Substance Use and Its Impact on Personality Disorders

Personality is defined as patterns of perceiving, feeling, thinking, and relating oneself to others. Individual personalities make each person unique, but they also offer a form of commonality with other humans. When personality patterns deviate from the expectations of social and cultural norms, personality disorders can develop.

Personality disorders are mental health conditions that alter a person’s inner experience and behaviors (such as ways of perceiving and interpreting others, events, emotional responses, impulse control, and interpersonal functioning). They are marked by unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, difficulty initiating or maintaining relationships, and impaired functioning.

This disorder can cause a person to be evasive and inflexible, have trouble adjusting to change, and be unable to deal with everyday stressors. Personality disorders can also cause a person to adopt extreme views and behaviors that interfere with sustaining employment or relating to others.

Types of Personality Disorders

Personality disorders impact cognition, interpersonal functioning, and impulse control. However, there are several types of personality disorders and they all impact different areas in a person’s life. There are a total of ten types of personality disorders, and they are categorized into three clusters: A, B, and C.

Cluster A: Odd-Eccentric Personality Disorders

Individuals with these disorders have symptoms that are similar to people that have schizophrenia. These symptoms can include inappropriate or flat affects, odd thoughts and speech patterns, paranoia, and an inability to relate to others.

  • Paranoid personality disorder is defined as a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others. People who suffer from this disorder are fearful of others harming, deceiving, or exploiting them, even if that fear is unsubstantiated. Paranoid personality disorder causes a preoccupation with unjustified assumptions of malice, disloyalty, and fidelity.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is described as a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships. People with this type of personality disorder have no desire to establish nor enjoy social relationships or sexual activity. People with schizoid personality disorder typically have limited emotional expressions and can come off as cold or uninterested.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is marked by what some might refer to as strange or eccentric behavior. Individuals with this form of personality disorder are often uncomfortable forming close relationships primarily caused by cognitive or perceptual distortions. It is also common for people with schizotypal personality disorder to believe in magic, a sixth sense, superstitions, or illusions.

Cluster B: Dramatic-Emotional Personality Disorders

People with these disorders tend to be manipulative, volatile, and uncaring. In social relationships, they are prone to impulsive, sometimes violent behaviors that show little regard for their safety or the needs and safety of others.

  • Antisocial personality disorder is characterized as a pattern of disregard for the rights of others. People who have this personality disorder usually fail to conform to societal norms and often display unlawful behaviors that put them at risk of being arrested.
  • Borderline personality disorder causes people to develop instability in their interpersonal relationships, resulting in short relationships and an intense fear of abandonment. It causes impulsivity, sudden mood changes, or frequent displays of anger.
  • Histrionic personality disorder refers to a person’s tendency to exaggerate things for the approval of others. It causes hypersensitivity to criticism and leads to attention-seeking behavior for the support of others.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the most well-known personality disorders. It is characterized as a pattern of grandiosity and an inflated sense of self-importance.

Cluster C: Anxious-Fearful Personality Disorders

People with these disorders are extremely concerned about being criticized or abandoned by others and thus have dysfunctional relationships with others.

  • Avoidant personality disorder is marked by the pervasive pattern of hypersensitivity to negative evaluation and feelings of inadequacy. It is marked by an intense fear of rejection, shame, and criticism.
  • Dependent personality disorder is defined as an overwhelming need to be taken care of, reassured, and advised, resulting in submissive or clingy behavior. It causes an inability to make decisions, express disagreement, and be alone.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by the preoccupation with systemization, perfectionism, as well as control at the expense of adaptability, openness, and efficiency. It sometimes causes over-consciousness and, due to self-imposed strict standards, impairs functioning.

Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse

Living with a personality disorder is extremely difficult, and it is common for people who suffer from them to experience high levels of depression. Substance use disorder is common amongst people that have a personality disorder. Personality disorders are marked by symptoms that are rife for substance use disorders, including impulsivity, fear of social interactions, inflexibility, and dependency.

For an individual suffering from a personality disorder, using drugs and alcohol may improve one’s ability to socialize, sleep better, suppress insecurities, and feel less anxious. However, it only provides temporary relief from symptoms, which are often intensified and made worse by substances.

Alcohol and substance use disorder (SUD) alone can cast upon you so many hardships and consequences. When coupled with mental health disorders, this substance use typically exacerbates a soon to become or already unmanageable situation. Substance use can often provide what seems to be temporary relief from these conditions of the mind while creating an increase in these symptoms. Additionally, personality disorders create considerable personal challenges in defining where unhealthy functioning constitutes the beginning of a condition, which increases one’s risk of developing a substance use disorder. At Valiant Living, located in beautiful Centennial, CO, we are an all-male recovery center. We specialize in helping men create, develop, and use tools to address and manage co-disorders. We also help to re-establish intimate relationships and encourage sobriety. If you or someone you love needs help managing a mental health disorder or maintaining sobriety from drugs or alcohol, please contact us today at (303) 952-5035