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Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) and Substance Abuse

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Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) and Substance Abuse

In the realm of addiction treatment, there is a high comorbidity of personality disorders and substance use disorder (SUD). Per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), personality disorders are marked by “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture.” Individuals with personality disorders may turn to substance abuse for a variety of reasons, for example, to self-medicate their distressing symptoms.

While all co-occurring disorders require professional guidance for recovery, one comorbidity that is often under-discussed is dependent personality disorder (DPD) and substance abuse. Lantana Recovery offers several treatment programs for those seeking recovery from substance addictions as well as co-occurring mental health disorders. We specialize in the treatment of DPD and the associated alcohol and drug addictions that tend to manifest in tandem. For those struggling with the symptoms of DPD and co-occurring substance abuse, understand that treatment is available and recovery is possible.

The Prevalence of Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse

According to a narrative review by the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, “[T]he overall prevalence of PD ranges from 10% to 14.8% in the normal population and from 34.8% to 73.0% in patients treated for addictions.” This statistic shows a significantly higher prevalence of substance abuse and addiction in those with personality disorders compared to those without them. Further in the review, light is shed on several possible explanations for this high prevalence:

  • Primary personality disorder triggers secondary substance abuse, informing the development of SUD or addiction
    • Using alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate symptoms of personality disorder
  • Traumatic experiences related to primary SUD trigger personality changes, informing the development of a secondary personality disorder
  • Both conditions share underlying risk factors, informing the development of each personality disorder and SUD separately
    • Biological factors can interfere with impulsivity and mechanisms of self-control, leading to substance abuse and personality changes
    • Traumatic experiences, in general, can trigger the development of personality disorders and inform the use of substances

For these reasons and more, it is imperative to discuss the need for professional treatment for those with personality disorders and co-occurring substance abuse. More specifically, learning about the link between DPD and substance abuse can empower individuals to participate in the treatment they need to achieve lasting recovery from symptoms of distress.

What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?

DPD is a personality disorder that affects a small number of the population. However, learning about the tendencies of DPD can foster deeper understanding and empathy for those that may have it. According to the National Library of Medicine, DPD is defined as:

A disorder characterized by an enduring pattern of an extreme need to be taken care of together with fear of separation that lead the individual to urgently seek out and submit to another person and allow that person to make decisions that impact all areas of the individual’s life.

A person with DPD overly depends on the actions or validations of others in order to meet their own mental, emotional, and/or physical needs. DPD is a type of anxious personality disorder, meaning that a person with the condition may experience extreme worry and fear when they are alone. Some defining signs and symptoms of DPD include:

  • Extreme avoidance of being alone
  • Oversensitivity to criticism or disapproval
  • Extreme fear of abandonment
  • Inability to make decisions without support or validation from others
  • Extreme submissiveness or passiveness
  • Excessive need to be taken care of
  • Inability to express disagreements with others

Increased Risks of Substance Abuse

There are many reasons why a person with DPD may initially or repeatedly turn to alcohol and other drugs. After all, a person with DPD may go to great lengths to avoid conflict, separation, and abandonment.

For example, in an attempt to achieve the approval of others, they may engage in substance use as a result of peer pressure. Further, some may use substances to self-medicate their lack of confidence or self-love. Needless to say, if an individual with DPD has not yet engaged in substance use, it is only a matter of time before they do so at the expense of their own health and well-being.

To achieve effective recovery from co-occurring conditions, an individual must receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously. This will minimize any potential for relapse as well as reduce any symptoms of distress that may inform it. Therefore, individuals with DPD and SUD must participate in a program that specializes in the treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Treatment for DPD and Substance Abuse at Lantana Recovery

DPD can be a devastating disorder that causes a person to lose their sense of self. If substance abuse is involved, it can cloud a person’s entire perspective of the world around them. Fortunately, treatment can help individuals with DPD and co-occurring substance abuse to reestablish balance in their health, well-being, and a sense of purpose for their lives.

Whether a person is seeking recovery from DPD and substance abuse or another combination of co-occurring disorders, Lantana is here to help. Lantana Recovery offers several outpatient programs as well as a residential Empowerment Program to ensure that all individuals seeking treatment have a place of refuge. Moreover, we offer a variety of evidence-based and holistic therapies to assist in every transition of the recovery process.

Personality disorders often co-occur with substance abuse and vice versa. Unfortunately, leaving either condition unmanaged can eventually impair your ability to function in daily life. Not to worry – Lantana Recovery is here to help. We offer a residential Empowerment Program as well as several outpatient programs to assist individuals in their addiction and mental health recovery journeys. Additionally, we offer a plethora of clinical modalities, both evidence-based and holistic, to individualize our client care. Dependent personality disorder and co-occurring substance abuse can cause catastrophic effects on your life. With treatment, you can achieve lasting healing from your symptoms and substance abuse. For more information, call us today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.