Can Alcohol Cause Personality Disorders?

Can Alcohol Cause Personality Disorders?Severe alcohol abuse commonly causes individuals to develop personality disorders, especially among individuals with a predisposition for mental health disorders. High amounts of alcohol consumption can negatively impact a person’s brain activity and mental functioning to the point of developing severe mental disorders. Some of the most common mental health disorders that can arise from alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Depression – Alcohol abuse can often cause a person to have mimicked symptoms of clinical depression. Severe and chronic alcohol abuse can cause individuals to have impaired moods, feelings of hopelessness and insomnia, which are classic symptoms of clinical depression. Alcoholism is a common contributor to individuals being misdiagnosed with depression.
  • Anxiety – Alcoholic individuals commonly struggle with severe anxiety, especially during episodes of withdrawal from alcohol. A major problem with alcohol-induced anxiety disorder is that consuming an alcoholic beverage can immediately alleviate the feelings of anxiety. This vicious circle only worsens the symptoms of anxiety down the line, possibly even to the point of developing a severe panic disorder.

These mental health disorders are often diagnosed without addressing the underlying problem of alcoholism. Failing to adequately address the alcoholism can cause misdiagnoses that prevent an individual from getting the help needed and only prolong the damaging effects to mental health. Alcoholism is one of the most common co-occurring conditions with personality disorders. Severe alcohol consumption can often cause behaviors that mimic those of an individual with a personality disorder, often causing misdiagnoses. For co-occurring conditions, alcoholism often has to be treated first in order to address the personality disorder. Several common personality disorders are associated with alcoholism, including the following:

  • Antisocial personality disorder – This disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy towards others and a complete disregard for their rights. It is often a significant contributor to a lifestyle of criminal activity.
  • Borderline personality disorder – This disorder often leads to a black and white thought process and is often characterized by unstable relationships, skewed self-image and impulsive behavior.
  • Histrionic personality disorder – This disorder may manifest itself with severe attention-seeking behavior in the form of inappropriate seduction and exaggerated emotions.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder – This disorder may be characterized by arrogant behavior with a need for admiration and a sense of self-superiority.

These personality disorders are all characterized by having dramatic and erratic emotional instabilities. These behavioral symptoms can often mask the co-occurring disorder of alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is also often found among individuals suffering from bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings between mania and depression. Co-occurring conditions of alcohol addiction and mental health disorders often require Dual Diagnosis treatment in order for both disorders to be adequately addressed.

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