How Alcohol Abuse Can Mask Anti-social Personality Disorder

How Alcohol Abuse Can Mask Anti-social Personality DisorderThere is a strong correlation between antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse of all types. One study concluded that 90% of people with antisocial personality disorder also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder (Messina, Wish and Nemes, 1999). Alcohol abuse and addiction can complicate diagnosis and treatment of anti-social personality disorder, but you can recover with the right help.

Definition and Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, antisocial personality disorder is “a type of chronic mental illness in which a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are abnormal – and destructive.” Psych Central elaborates on this to say that anti-social personality disorder “is characterized by a long-standing pattern of a disregard for other people’s rights, often crossing the line and violating those rights.” People with antisocial personality disorder display a lack of empathy and respect for others, often using, abusing and violating others for their own purposes. They typically have a history of violent behavior, and they often find themselves in trouble with the law. Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include the following:

  • Failure to conform to social norms and standards of behavior
  • Deceitfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Arrogance
  • Reckless disregard for the safety and welfare of others
  • Irresponsibility
  • Lack of remorse

If you recognize these problems in yourself or a loved one, antisocial personality disorder may be the cause.

Treating Antisocial Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Alcoholism

There is no clinical test to determine if someone has antisocial personality disorder; rather, a diagnosis is based on behavioral history. Additionally, diagnosing antisocial personality disorder is only made on people over the age of eighteen who displayed symptoms prior to the age of fifteen.

Alcohol abuse and addiction can mask antisocial personality disorder so thoroughly that it is difficult to diagnose, which can complicate treatment attempts. For instance, people may attribute the signs of this disorder to heavy drinking: friends and family may assume that if the person can control his drinking, then the conduct problems will disappear. They do not realize that alcohol abuse does not cause the behavior problems, but it stems from antisocial personality disorder.

Treating patients with antisocial personality disorder is notoriously difficult, especially if patients have alcohol abuse issues. Patients are typically combative in any treatment scenario. Some psychologists refuse to treat antisocial personality disorder until people overcome alcoholism, but alcoholics may be excluded from rehab due to symptoms of the personality disorder.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Antisocial Personality Disorder

Professionals continue to research effective treatment methods for antisocial personality disorder. Treatment usually involves long-term therapy with a psychologist who personality disorders. If you would like help finding treatment for this issue and alcohol abuse, or if you simply have questions about these problems, then please call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and help you find the treatment you need.