Disorders of the Self
Understanding addiction as a neurological disease that takes away the self-control one has over their own behavior helps to differentiate between addictive behavior and native personality traits. An addict’s character may become extremely distorted when they are under the influence of drugs. Once sobriety is established, the personality then reverts back to individual baseline behavior. Therin sometimes lay the problem.
A very high percentage of those who suffered from drug and alcohol abuse at some period during their lives also had personality disorders or disorders of the self, a term coined by psychologist Heinz Kohut. It has been suggested that up to 77 percent of alcoholics and addicts also met the criteria for self disorders. The most frequent observed character issues found in substance abusers were antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
However, these self disorders are only two out of a dozen or so outlined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM outlines a personality disorder as ‘an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture; is pervasive and inflexible; has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood; is stable over time and leads to distress or impairment.’ Personality types can also consist of schizoid, paranoid, melodramatic, self-absorbed, reliant, avoidant, obsessive compulsive and others. When someone experiences addiction, as well as a personality disorder or mood disorder, they are thought to have a dual diagnosis.
Treatment of addiction with comorbid self disorders is complicated. Recent treatments and methods have been developed, though they are only available at highly qualified facilities such as Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center. In these cases, unfavorable outcomes and consequences will be certain if there is a delayed response in seeking addiction treatment.
Symptoms of repressed mental illness can ignite substance use in an attempt to self-medicate when there is an emotional state of hopelessness. Addictive behaviors in turn will only worsen that state of hopelessness. Consequently, this is the reason dual diagnosis patients and people with disorders of the self are most in danger for suicide attempts.
Most people who are active in their addiction also present indications of a disordered self. Ensuring individual safety in a secure and comfortable setting followed by a full psychiatric evaluation is required before a dual diagnosis can be determined. Only after this is done, can focused and effective treatment begin to address the issues and treat underlying problems in a fitting manner.