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The Connection Between Avoidant Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

John Templeton Jr. - April 21, 2021

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You can’t help but notice a shiver running up your spine as intense feelings of anxiety begin to buckle your knees. All you wanted to do was meet some co-workers for a cup of coffee, but you weren’t expecting the self-sabotaging thoughts to be so pervasive — to the point where you actually believe you were only invited to be made fun of.

If you’re struggling with avoidant personality disorder, that’s a quick glimpse into the anxiety you wrestle with each day. In fact, the stress and anxiety can be so severe you might even use drugs or alcohol to cope. The truth is that avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse share a deep connection with one another, and we’re about to shed some light on it.

What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

The core of avoidant personality disorder is when you have an established pattern of avoiding social situations or any activities that involve a sense of achievement. It can be difficult to realize or be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder since the condition is often confused with shyness or social anxiety.

With social anxiety, you’re likely to be fully aware your fears are irrational. When you have avoidant personality disorder, you truly believe you are inferior to others and that any rejection you face is deserved. The fear and feelings of self-sabotage are so strong that it’s common for avoidant personality disorder to derail your personal and professional life. The concept of failure can become so overwhelming that you stop putting forth effort.

Why Do Substance Abuse and Avoidant Personality Disorder Co-Occur?

When you have avoidant personality disorder, you believe the negative image you have of yourself is justified. This often leads to you isolating yourself from friends and family while grappling with rising feelings of depression. In an effort to cope with these feelings, you might turn to drugs or alcohol. While substance abuse might mask the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder for a short time, it will make them worse in the long run.

With avoidant personality disorder, your feelings of fear are much more intense, and the avoidance behavior and isolation are ways to cope. You might start abusing drugs or alcohol to try to increase your self-worth. The temporary euphoric feeling caused by being drunk or high can hold off the vicious cycle of negative thoughts.

Unfortunately, substance abuse often triggers those negative thoughts and feeling of isolation you were trying to overcome in the first place. Once you become addicted, you can get caught in a cycle of abuse trying to manage the anxiety drugs or alcohol are causing.

How to Treat Substance Abuse and Avoidant Personality Disorder

Since the intense feelings of fear avoidant personality disorder causes feed into substance abuse behavior, it’s important to treat both conditions at the same time. Addiction treatment centers like Footprints Beachside Recovery will be able to uncover how each mental health condition is impacting the other. That way, you’ll be able to build healthy coping strategies and learn how to overcome the intense feelings of failure that are casting a shadow over your life.

One of the best treatments for co-occurring avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse is cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a type of psychotherapy that helps you identify harmful behavioral patterns so you can create healthier ones. You’ll also be able to root out the vicious cycle of negative thoughts that avoidant personality disorder causes. Plus, residential treatment programs are able to customize your treatment so that it addresses your unique challenges.

Discover Premier Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Florida

Footprints Beachside Recovery is a family-run dual diagnosis treatment center located on the scenic beaches of Treasure Island, Florida. With a holistic approach to mental health and addiction treatment, we can help you privately heal your mind, body and spirit.

We have over 10 years of experience helping people just like you overcome mental health conditions and substance abuse. In fact, we’ve been through it ourselves, which is how we know you have the potential to achieve lasting recovery. Contact our admissions team today to find the treatment you need to turn your life around.

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