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The Link Between Avoidance Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

A woman struggling with avoidance personality disorder at home.
Learn about the connection between avoidance personality disorder and substance abuse.

When you’re faced with the prospect of social situation, you can’t stop an unbreakable shiver running up your spine. Anxiety continues to cast a shadow over each day, and it takes all your energy not to give into the seemingly endless thoughts of self-sabotage. If you’re struggling with avoidance personality disorder, that’s a quick glimpse of the feelings that you grapple with on a regular basis.

In fact, it’s common for people with avoidance personality disorder to abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the negative feelings. Is there a deeper link between avoidance personality disorder and substance abuse? In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into the connection between both of these medical conditions.

What is Avoidance Personality Disorder?

Simply put, avoidance personality disorder is defined as an established pattern of avoidance behavior in situations that are social in nature or involve a sense of achievement. While this condition is often mistaken for common shyness or social anxiety disorder, there are several key differences.

Unlike social anxiety, avoidance personality disorder goes beyond interactions with others. There’s an intense fear of being judged that anyone with this condition has to struggle with. This fear is often so intense that it has a direct impact on the productivity of your personal and professional life. You might often find yourself so paralyzed by the prospect of failure that it prevents you from making an effort in the first place.

What Causes Avoidance Personality Disorder?

While mental health experts have yet to find a clear cause for avoidance personality disorder, experts believe that it’s caused by a combination of:

  • Genetics or a family history of mental health conditions
  • Your early childhood environment
  • Life experiences that have shaped your personality

It’s also possible for avoidant personality disorder to develop from a traumatic experience. Due to the trauma, your mind develops the condition as a defense mechanism. Think of it as a kind of overcorrection that tries to protect you from emotional pain by convincing you to severely limit your social interactions.

Co-Occurrence of Avoidant Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, it’s common for someone struggling with avoidant personality disorder to turn to drug or alcohol abuse as a way to cope with the feelings of loneliness and depression. Substance abuse can also take the edge off and make social situations less stressful than they would be when you’re sober. While drugs and alcohol can help mask the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder for a short time, it will make them worse eventually. As the symptoms get worse, you might adapt by using more drugs or alcohol, which can start a cycle of abuse.

Another core problem that arises from avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse is the isolation it creates and compounds. Substance abuse has a tendency of introducing more isolation into your life. As the use of drugs or alcohol becomes more a priority, it can push your friends and family away. It’s one of the ways that substance abuse can undermine your mental health and quality of life.

Treatment for Avoidance Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Effective treatment for avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse means addressing both conditions together. Some of the therapies you can expect for treatment of these co-occurring conditions include:

One of the keys of treatment is showing you how to build confidence and have healthy relationships. Residential treatment is often recommended because of the personalized approach and time you can invest in your recovery.

Find Hope for Lasting Recovery at The Raleigh House

At The Raleigh House, we know how challenging it can be to navigate a mental health condition and substance abuse. Our expert staff can help you reach lasting recovery from avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse. We have helped countless individuals with dual diagnosis disorders reclaim their sense of purpose.

You have the potential to break free from the hold and your mental health condition and substance abuse has over you. Our Residential Treatment program uses a unique blend of evidence-based and experiential therapies to help your mind, body and spirit heal. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about how we can help.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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