Borderline Personality Disorder and Alcoholism

There are certainly some people who struggle with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and alcoholism and the mix can be tough for that person and loved ones to contend with. BPD is a personality disorder that affects one’s moods significantly, which certainly affects relationships with friends, family, and significant others.

Someone suffering with BPD may become manipulative and dramatic, depending on others to fulfill their self-perception. They have a real fear of being abandoned and will oftentimes do whatever it takes in order to stay attached to others. They will idealize at times and at other times devalue themselves and others. They do not know who they are and have an unstable self-image. They are impulsive and may be prone to self-harming behaviors. They feel empty much of the time and they may get extremely angry at times.

Experts state that the underlying cause of BPD is intense emotional pain and overwhelming fear. Many BPD sufferers will self-medicate with alcohol or drugs in an attempt to get some relief, but this oftentimes makes matters worse. Many become alcoholics and/or drug addicts, which can make for a rocky life full of issues. They may lose relationships, jobs, family, and friends. Some will end up living a life in complete fear and brokenness and not understand why.

There is help available for both alcoholism and BPD. The first thing that should occur is that the person should stop drinking and get some professional help for the addiction via a rehab and/or a 12 Step group. Second, therapy will be essential to contend with the BPD, as the underlying issues of the disorder will need to be addressed.

Many who have been dually diagnosed with BPD and alcoholism find relief through such measures and go on to live a happy and peaceful life. Though there is no immediate cure for either condition, there are certainly ways to manage symptoms. If you have an addiction to alcohol or you feel as if you may be suffering from BPD, reach out for help from a professional today. You can make changes that will bring you much happiness and peace.

  • 19 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I think i have actually run into someone with BDP at work, She seems to have very explosive rage issues, yet if confronted will back down and be as sweet as a kitten. This individual seems to have need to cling to me as the person that will solve all her woes.  I don't know much about this disorder and am curious how it is different from a Histrionic personality disorder. they seem very similar to me but the approach in how to deal with a person with either disorder maybe very different.
  • I have a BPD diagnosis and alcohol was one of my "coping" mechanisms. Before I was hospitalized most-recently due to a psychotic episode I had not considered my alcohol use as an addiction. I would've labeled it as substance abuse, but never did I feel it was an addiction. This is likely because I would go long periods of times, months even, without drinking. Then I would binge for weeks, and it would go on like that. During the times I wasn't drinking I was simply filling that same void with another addictive behavior, whether it was self-harm, or sexual acting out, etc. So in my situation, it was more important to address why I was engaging in these behaviors rather than simply labeling me an alcoholic and throwing me into AA. That would've done nothing, but working through my addictions in therapy has been far more helpful.
  • I dated a borderline when I was in high school. I diagnosed him before he ever went to a doctor, but it was one of the most terrifying relationships of my life. I know he had several other issues than just the BPD, but it was definitely scarring to say the least. I don't think he was an alcoholic, he would drink on occasion, but it didn't seem to be an everyday thing. I know he had other drug issues though that I was not aware of until we ended our relationship and other people informed me. He is actually in prison now. 
  • My mother, who is an alcohol addict, has a borderline personality disorder. When I was a child, I never knew whom I would encounter when I came home from school. She had two very distinct personalities that usually would appeared on different days. Depending on her alcohol intake, the two personalities would mingle and lead to screaming and shouting  and a lot of psychological and physical abuse towards me. At times, even a third personality would surface. When that particular personality was prevalent, my mother often couldn't remember what she had said or done during the previous day. 
    I don't know exactly how she is faring these days, as I haven't spoken to her in many years.
  • That seems like a really complicated situation to grow up in arame. I am glad you managed out of that situation, but it must have been really hard to have such a childhood. 
  • I have never been diagnosed with BPD, but I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and I see some characteristics of BPD within me. The need for companionship or just overall not wanting to be alone. As of the last year or so, after an ugly breakup, I was forced into a situation where I had to be alone. Although I lived with roommates, they were rarely around and I'm not the most social person,  so I found myself feeling as if I was very emotional even within the company of no one. 
  • I have suspected for a long time that my husband has some type of mental disorder. He is a recovering addict and an alcoholic who had nearly 4 years sober but just recently relapsed. I have looked up his personality traits and have found that he most likely has BPD. I am of course no professional, but I just feel that this would be his diagnosis. 
    He doesn't like talking about his issues with anyone. I feel that it would put a lot of things into prospective for him if he were to receive a diagnosis. I'm going to try to talk to him to see if he would be willing to make an appointment with a doctor soon. Thank you for this post!
  • @aimeep80 thank you for sharing that with us.  i'm sure you want the best for your husband, so if he does have BPD, it would serve him well to get some professional counseling. 

    Yes, sit down and have a genuine heart to heart with him. Go with an attitude of love and compassion and really let him know you are concerned. If he has recently relapsed, he is most likely dealing with some negative emotions under the surface. He's self-medicating. 

    Let us know how this goes and know that we are in your corner rooting for you!
  • Hello @dominica and thank you so much for the reply. I love him so much and it hurts me to see him hurting. Things are going so much better for him and I, so I really don't understand the relapse. He says he just wants to be "a man" and be able to have a few beers on the weekend, but sadly an alcoholic can not only have a few. But I will definitely talk to him and suggest maybe he get some counseling that can maybe pinpoint his issues. I will certainly keep you all updated. Thanks!
  • A while back I was diagnosed bipolar with borderline personality disorder. Everything you said is right on! Thank you forth post!
  • BPD seems to describe somebody I know. How do you even deal with a person suffering from this without major drama and or trauma? He doesn't drink anymore but the BPD is spot on.
  • I was diagnosed with BPD when I was eighteen.  My sister knew I had it long before I was diagnosed because she was going to college for psychology.  She said I was a "textbook case" but only told me all this after I was professionally diagnosed.  I can say I relate to everything that was stated here but it is getting better as I get older.
  • @liquidfuzzy  i am glad that it is getting better.  have you seen a counselor for it consistently or are you contending with it on your own?
  • My ex gf was diagnosed Intermittent Explosive Disorder, she is also an alcoholic. The irony is that she is in the process of studying mental health counseling, and one day we were reviewing the DSM on Borderline Personality Disorder and it was spot on. She knew for years, but only only eluded to the possibility. The relationship was a terrifying experience, even to this day, 3 months later. 6 months into our relationship she relapsed, while it was rough prior, the real trauma began to happen after she relapsed. I have never seen such rage in anyone in my life. I did everything to explain what was happening, brought her family involved. I threw as much love and compassion as a bf could after a year of living together; she squashed me, continuously tried using my love to take advantage and dominate. I read about it and knew what it was, but it didn't matter, I couldn't take the heat anymore. I told her parents she was crashing, they knew it also, but did nothing to intervene. The incredible level of manipulation, emotional and slight physical abuse, I'll never forget. I truly do love her, but I had to block her out of my life entirely, no contact whatsoever. I felt it necessary for myself to go to counseling after the trauma. It was an important experience for me, but I may be overly cautious about relationships now. I still feel like I am in recovery from the experience.
  • I apologize to the folks that have already read some of my other posts on things like BPD; I am getting my Ph.D. in clinical psych and am an intern at a private clinic that treats patients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders; as such, I have commented on other forum posts on BPD so I will try to keep this short and not be too repetitive.  BPD and a lot of other diagnoses look very, very similar, and although most of the characteristics mentioned by folks here (manipulative behavior, self-harm, seeming "different" to different people) are seen with people who have it, there are two things to know about this diagnosis:

    1. It should never be diagnosed in someone with an active substance use disorder.  In mental health, we use a process called differential diagnosis when we see symptoms that suggest a disorder, but may also be occurring for another reason.  Differential diagnosis for BPD includes alcohol and/or drug dependence as well as bipolar disorder, because the difficulty regulating emotions that is a key feature of BPD is also a key feature of addiction and withdrawal.  A lot of clinicians do make this mistake, unfortunately, and end up assigning a diagnosis of BPD to someone they meet with in an inpatient detox unit or someplace similar.  In such a case, the diagnosis should be given either as provisional (is tentative but needs to be further assessed) or a rule-out (is unlikely, but needs to be further assessed).  

    2. As a rule, I try to advise my patients to avoid the DSM because understanding it does take proper training...it is not as easy as just flipping it open and finding a diagnosis that seems to fit.  People often aren't aware of this, but diagnoses are constructions - they are neither real/tangible nor objective, which means that ten different clinicians might assign the same person ten diagnoses, and each clinician might be able to treat them effectively with slightly different methods.  It's really, really important not to get too hung up on labels as far as what you or someone else might "have;" the most important thing is how it is managed.
  • @aurabean thank you for your input...really appreciate this information!!
  • I've heard so many awful things about BDP, but I must admit it's very hard for me to spot the difference between this and other mental issues. Someone a while ago told me my fiance might be a bit of a narcissist or a BDP.  I was told a relationship with someone like that would be hard, but I am no longer sure he suffers from BDP. 
  • I know now to never cover up my mental health issues with booze. It is jsut not worth it. It creates more problems than it solves and it just does more damage to my body with all of those toxins in my blood stream. 
  • My husband is an alcoholic and he has every single symptom that there is of BPD. The mental health care in our area is not very good so he is unable to get a diagnosis. I do believe that BPD and addiction go hand in hand. 
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