Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affect millions of Americans every year. Studies show significant overlap between both of these groups. Approximately 30 percent of people with adult ADHD have BPD, and about 20 percent of people with BPD have adult ADHD. Both BPD and ADHD affect self-regulation. BPD causes emotional dysregulation and ADHD primarily impacts control of attention and motor functions. Symptoms shared between the two disorders include irritability and agitation, difficulty controlling anger, frequent risk-taking behaviors and higher rates of substance misuse.

Unfortunately, the overlap between BPD and ADHD doesn’t mean that both conditions respond to the same interventions. Successful treatments for one condition can aggravate symptoms of the other. For example, stimulant medications like Adderall are an effective and popular treatment for ADHD that can cause adverse reactions in people with BPD. Fortunately, comorbid BPD and stimulant use disorders can be addressed simultaneously, and comorbid BPD and ADHD can be successfully treated without using Adderall. Integrated treatment can help people improve their emotional and attentional self-regulation skills, control cravings to use substances and experience a better quality of life.

Can Adderall Cause Borderline Personality Disorder?

A common misconception about personality disorders is that substance use or other adult behaviors can cause them. By definition, personality disorders emerge by late adolescence or early adulthood. Substance misuse in adolescence may contribute to the development of a personality disorder, but not in isolation from other key factors, like genetics and early life experiences. Among all personality disorders, BPD may be the most strongly linked to trauma.

While misusing Adderall can’t cause BPD, it can make the symptoms of the condition more severe. Taking Adderall with borderline personality disorder can intensify irritability and agitation, even to the point of triggering episodes of rage. People with BPD who take Adderall are at risk of becoming more emotionally dysregulated and suffering more intense bouts of dysphoria, which further increases their risk for self-harm and suicide.

Many people with BPD are not diagnosed with the disorder until they are hospitalized during or after a crisis. The risk of suicide in people with BPD is almost 50 times greater than that of the general population. People with BPD also have high rates of non-suicidal self-injury and accidental injury from high-risk behavior. Episodes of intentional or accidental self-harm often lead to hospital admissions, where a full assessment reveals that a person has BPD.

Unfortunately, people with BPD are often initially misdiagnosed. When they are not given the correct diagnosis, they may receive treatment that makes BPD symptoms worse. People with BPD who are prescribed Adderall for co-occurring ADHD may start using it in larger amounts than intended and become addicted.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for BPD and Adderall Addiction

In the last few decades, insights from clinical research have transformed the way BPD is treated and understood. Once thought to be challenging to treat, BPD is now recognized as a trauma-related disorder that responds to many trauma-focused interventions. Research has even revealed that most people with BPD experience a remission of symptoms.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was specifically developed for the treatment of BPD. It remains a popular and effective intervention for BPD and has also been found to be an excellent intervention for a range of trauma-related disorders. In DBT, people learn skills to improve their functioning in four areas: emotional regulation, distress tolerance, impulse control and interpersonal effectiveness. Once they have established a solid foundation in these skills, they can start working on other issues, such as processing trauma.

A group DBT format has been developed specifically for the treatment of co-occurring BPD and substance use disorders. People who participate in dialectical behavior therapy for substance use disorders (DBT-SUD) learn standard DBT skills along with skills to help them cope with cravings and triggers to use substances. Research shows that DBT-SUD improves outcomes in recovery from both BPD and substance use disorders.

However, DBT is only one of many potentially effective treatment options for people seeking recovery from Adderall addiction and BPD. Research shows that any integrated treatment approach leads to better outcomes for people with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders. In an integrated treatment program, targeted services are provided by clinicians who communicate with one another and coordinate their interventions.

By addressing BPD and substance use disorders at the same time, people avoid regressing in one area of treatment while making progress in another. For example, mental health treatment can temporarily heighten stress and discomfort as people examine emotionally provocative issues. This experience is less likely to trigger a recurrence of substance use when people are actively working on skills for emotional self-regulation. Similarly, receiving substance abuse treatment can increase the efficacy of mental health therapy.

Key Points: Adderall and Borderline Personality Disorder

It’s crucial that anyone with BPD understands the ways Adderall can affect their physical and mental health:

  • People may start taking Adderall for ADHD, recreation or increased productivity at work or school
  • Individuals with BPD frequently have co-occurring ADHD
  • Clinicians often detect and diagnose ADHD before they realize a person also has BPD, which can lead to people with BPD being prescribed Adderall
  • Adderall often worsens many symptoms of BPD, including emotional dysregulation
  • Because people with BPD are at increased risk for developing substance use disorders, they have a greater chance of developing Adderall addiction

Fortunately, integrated treatment for dual disorders can help people recover from the painful effects of BPD while they are receiving support to help them control cravings to use substances. This support can prevent people from resuming Adderall use while engaging in emotional challenges in therapy, like exploring past traumas. Despite lingering beliefs to the contrary, BPD is highly treatable and frequently goes into remission.

If you have experienced symptoms of BPD, you can read more about how the condition is diagnosed and treated here. If you are concerned about your Adderall use and believe it may have progressed to addiction, you can read more about the effects of Adderall misuse here or take a self-assessment. If you know you need treatment for co-occurring Adderall addiction and BPD, please contact The Recovery Village today. A representative can tell you more about facilities with integrated treatment options that can help you on your path to recovery.

    

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Kelly, Thomas. “Integrated Treatment of Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Kessler, Ronald. “The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, April 26, 2010. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Kienast, Thorsten. “Borderline Personality Disorder and Comorbid Addiction.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, April 18, 2014. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Matthies, Swantje. “Common ground in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)–review of recent findings.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, April 10, 2014.

Moran, Mark. “Remission Common in BPD, but Good Functioning Lags.” Psychiatric News, May 7, 2010. Accessed March 19, 2019.

Moukhtarian, Talar. “Emotion dysregulation in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder.” BMC, November 12, 2017. Accessed May 19, 2019.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Differential diagnosis, comorbidity, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in relation to bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder in adults.” August 2014. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Adderall and Borderline Personality Disorder
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