Personality Disorders & Alcohol Abuse | Symptoms & Treatment

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on August 12, 2023

Each type of personality disorder can increase your risk of alcohol abuse and addiction. The most common symptoms of alcohol abuse in someone with a personality disorder include frequent alcohol cravings, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, and isolation.

About 9% of U.S. adults live with personality disorders. These mental health conditions cause unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that disrupt your daily life. They likely result from a combination of childhood trauma and genetics. 

Many people with personality disorders abuse alcohol, which can lead to addiction. These individuals should seek dual diagnosis treatment

Co-Occurring Personality Disorders & Alcohol Abuse

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), 42% of respondents with a personality disorder also lived with alcohol addiction. 

This high comorbidity rate may partially stem from genetics. Some of the genes that raise your risk of developing a personality disorder may also make you more likely to abuse alcohol

Also, many people with personality disorders experienced childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect. This type of trauma increases your risk of substance abuse later in life. 


Some people misuse alcohol to self-medicate unpleasant symptoms caused by their personality disorders, such as anxiety and depression

Unfortunately, alcohol abuse only makes your mental health worse. It intensifies many of the issues linked to personality disorders, including relationship problems, work problems, and difficulty coping with everyday stress. 

Personality Disorder Symptoms

Each type of personality disorder has different symptoms. There are ten types, which are grouped into three categories: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C.

Cluster A

Cluster A personality disorders involve odd, unusual behaviors, including:

  • paranoid personality disorder (PPD), which causes persistent paranoia (irrational mistrust and suspicion of others)
  • schizoid personality disorder (ScPD), which causes extreme introversion and lack of interest in close relationships
  • schizotypal personality disorder (STPD), which causes paranoia, fear of intimacy, and social anxiety

Cluster B

Cluster B personality disorders involve dramatic, unpredictable behaviors, including

  • antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which causes impulsivity, irresponsible or illegal behavior, and lack of remorse 
  • borderline personality disorder (BPD), which causes an intense fear of abandonment, emotional instability, and self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm
  • histrionic personality disorder (HPD), which causes an intense desire for attention, dramatic behaviors, and suggestibility
  • narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which causes extreme arrogance, excessive need for validation, and lack of empathy

People with Cluster B personality disorders have higher rates of alcohol abuse and other types of drug abuse than people with Cluster A or C disorders.

Cluster C

Cluster C personality disorders involve anxious and fearful behaviors, including:

  • avoidant personality disorder (AVPD), which causes extreme social anxiety, sensitivity to rejection, and avoidance of other people
  • dependent personality disorder (DPD), which causes an intense fear of being alone, feelings of helplessness, and excessive reliance on others
  • obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), which causes extreme perfectionism, an intense need for control, and lack of flexibility

Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), you are abusing alcohol if:

  • you are female and have 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours, more than 3 drinks per day, or more than 7 drinks per week
  • you are male and have 5 or more drinks in about 2 hours, more than 4 drinks per day, or more than 14 drinks per week

Symptoms Of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol abuse often leads to alcohol use disorder (also called alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence). Common symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder include:

  • frequently craving alcohol
  • feeling unable to control your alcohol consumption or stop drinking
  • needing increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects (also called tolerance)
  • experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or sweating, when you don’t drink alcohol (also called physical dependence) 
  • drinking in unsafe situations, such as when you’re swimming, driving, or operating heavy machinery
  • losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • losing motivation at work or school
  • isolating from family and friends

Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Personality & Alcohol Use Disorders

If you or someone you love experiences the above symptoms, seek help at our dual diagnosis treatment program. Our program offers substance abuse and addiction treatment alongside treatment for other mental health disorders, including personality disorders. 

Our program is inpatient, meaning you live at our treatment center, while others are outpatient, meaning you live at home. Typically, outpatient programs are only recommended for people with milder conditions and supportive homes.

Whether inpatient or outpatient, dual diagnosis programs offer a variety of treatment options, including:

Medical Detox

During medical detox, clinicians help you slowly and safely stop drinking alcohol. They may prescribe medications to treat certain withdrawal symptoms.


In psychotherapy, a mental health professional teaches you how to cope with your personality disorder without turning to alcohol. 

The most common types of psychotherapy for personality disorders are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

CBT helps you change unhelpful beliefs and behaviors. DBT helps you manage negative emotions through mindfulness, interpersonal skills, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation.


To boost your sense of well-being, your treatment team may prescribe psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medications. They may also prescribe medications to ease alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Support Groups

In a support group, you can discuss your experiences and coping skills with other people recovering from mental disorders and co-occurring alcohol problems or other substance use disorders. These groups can help you feel less alone and more hopeful about recovery. 

To learn more about treatment for personality disorders and alcohol abuse, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one build a healthy, fulfilling life.

  1. Alcohol Research
  2. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
  3. National Institute of Mental Health
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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