Person looking at reflection while experiencing co-occurring disorders and borderline personality disorder

Common Co-Occurring Disorders for Borderline Personality Disorder

Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, are mental health conditions that coexist with one another. Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may struggle with additional mental health issues, such as ADHD, anxiety, or addiction. Recognizing co-occurring disorders and BPD can help people receive the appropriate treatment to lead healthier lives.

At Recovery Ranch in TN, we specialize in providing comprehensive care for clients with co-occurring disorders and borderline personality disorder. We understand the complexity of these issues and strive to provide personalized treatment plans that focus on individual needs. Our compassionate team of experienced professionals is committed to helping our clients achieve lasting recovery. Contact us today at 1.844.876.7680 to learn more about our personality disorder treatment center and start the path to healing. 

What Is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder characterized by the following: 

  • Difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Unstable relationships and self-image
  • Impulsive thought patterns

People with BPD often feel extreme highs and lows, experience intense bouts of anxiety or depression, have difficulty controlling their anger, and may engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse or self-injury. They may also suffer from impaired identity and struggle to maintain healthy relationships. 

Co-Occurring Disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder 

Behavioral health conditions that commonly co-occur with borderline personality disorder include:

  • Mood disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety disorders

Knowing more about these dual diagnoses can help individuals get the proper treatment and enjoy a higher quality of life. 

BPD and Substance Use Disorders

Drug and alcohol abuse is widespread in people with a borderline personality disorder. Around half of people with BPD also have a substance use disorder, with alcohol use being the most common. Researchers believe several factors contribute to this vulnerability:

  • A family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • The tendency of people with BPD to be impulsive and engage in reckless or self-destructive behaviors
  • A desire to self-medicate frequent pain and distress

Alcohol and drugs can be hazardous in the hands of someone with BPD. These substances may:

  • Intensify feelings of rage and other negative emotions
  • Increase the risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Increase impulsivity
  • Worsen judgment 
  • Intensify mood swings

Using drugs or alcohol may also cause paranoid ideations, psychotic symptoms, and damage to relationships.  

BPD and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are common in people with BPD. Childhood trauma is a frequent underlying issue in people with eating disorders and borderline personality disorder. The impulsive, self-destructive tendencies of people with BPD may also make them particularly vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. 

Research shows that effectively treating co-occurring BPD and eating disorders can be challenging. Those with borderline personality disorder tend to move between different types of eating disorders, which can hinder recovery.


Like those with BPD, people with ADHD often struggle with impulsivity. Co-occurring BPD and ADHD can be difficult to treat because some ADHD medications may worsen borderline symptoms.

Typical ADHD medications, such as Ritalin, are stimulants. They may intensify impulsive, aggressive behaviors and emotional reactivity in people with BPD. If ADHD symptoms are mild, behavioral therapy without medication may be enough. If medication is necessary for ADHD symptoms, some clinicians add a low dose of antipsychotic medication to offset the stimulant effects.

Seek Mental Health Treatment at The Ranch

If you or someone you love struggles with co-occurring disorders and borderline personality disorder, contact Recovery Ranch today. Our experienced clinicians provide personalized evidence-based treatment plans that can help individuals achieve long-lasting recovery. Don’t wait any longer. Take the first step toward a healthier life by calling us today at 1.844.876.7680 or completing our online form.

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