People who have borderline personality disorder may also struggle with amphetamine addiction, but treatment is possible for both conditions.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe mental health condition that harms emotional regulation, impulse control, and interpersonal relationships. The frequent co-occurrence of borderline personality disorder with substance use disorders, such as amphetamine addiction, can make symptoms worse and treatment more difficult. Prescribed amphetamine medications may also impact borderline personality disorder symptoms.

Article at a Glance:

Some important points to remember about borderline personality disorder and amphetamine use include:

  • Amphetamine use is common in people with borderline personality disorder
  • Amphetamine use can increase the severity of borderline personality disorder symptoms
  • Chronic amphetamine use can cause brain damage and may impact the development of borderline personality disorder
  • Successful treatment for both borderline personality disorder and amphetamine addiction is possible and includes dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Amphetamines & BPD

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although further studies investigating the prevalence of borderline personality disorder and amphetamine addiction are needed, current research shows that:

Since amphetamines are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, these drugs have a high potential to impact symptoms and treatment of co-occurring borderline personality disorder.

Can Amphetamines Cause Borderline Personality Disorder?

More research is needed to investigate whether amphetamines can cause borderline personality disorder. However, chronic amphetamine use can damage parts of the brain involved in borderline personality disorder symptoms.

For example, studies demonstrate that amphetamine use can cause structural brain abnormalities and lead to changes in how the brain responds to the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Studies on methamphetamine, which shares similarities with amphetamines, also indicate that dopamine and serotonin nerve terminal damage can occur with prolonged use.

Dopamine and serotonin are brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that send signals to and from nerve cells. Dopamine and serotonin nerve terminal damage can lead to symptoms such as decreased impulse control, memory problems and reduced motor function.

Since these symptoms characterize borderline personality disorder, amphetamine use may contribute to the development of BPD. Both prescription and illicit amphetamine use are common in children and young adults who are in the middle of a critical brain development period. Thus, amphetamine use in children and young adults may cause more pronounced brain changes and impact the development of borderline personality disorder later in life.

Do Amphetamines Affect Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms?

Borderline personality disorder symptoms include:

  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Intense emotional reactivity
  • Self-destructive and high-risk behavior, including self-harm and suicide attempts
  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • An unstable sense of self

Since borderline personality disorder involves difficulties with emotional regulation and impulse control, the use of medications that also impact emotions and decision making can worsen symptoms. The euphoric feeling caused by amphetamine use may also be attractive to people with borderline personality disorder, as it can temporarily relieve symptoms of desolation or powerlessness.

Amphetamines cause an increase in the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which boosts brain activity. This boost helps people prescribed amphetamines by increasing focus and alertness. However, since the dysregulation of neurotransmitters is associated with borderline personality disorder symptoms, amphetamines may affect BPD symptoms by increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin.

If a person with borderline personality disorder is prescribed amphetamines to treat ADHD, they may experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • An increase in emotional problems
  • Increased impulsive behavior
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Increased thoughts of self-harm and suicide

Amphetamines must be carefully prescribed to people with borderline personality disorder, and treatment for amphetamine addiction is critical to prevent severe complications.

Treatment Options for Borderline Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Amphetamine Addiction

A mixed therapeutic approach is most successful for the treatment of borderline personality disorder and co-occurring amphetamine addiction. Borderline personality disorder therapy typically involves helping people regulate their emotions and impulses using psychotherapy. Usually, amphetamine addiction treatment involves medical detox followed by one-on-one counseling sessions, therapist-led support groups and psychiatric support.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the most effective therapies for borderline personality disorder with co-occurring substance use disorders. Essentially, DBT helps people with borderline personality disorder to become more aware of their emotions and learn how to control them.

Through multiple sessions, DBT is intended to improve:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Distress tolerance
  • Impulse control
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

A specific form of DBT, DBT-SUD, was developed specifically for the treatment of substance use disorders (sometimes called SUDs) such as amphetamine addiction. In DBT-SUD, DBT dialectical behavior therapy strategies are applied to recovery from both borderline personality disorder and substance use disorders.

The fundamental principles of DBT-SUD include concurrent treatment of both disorders, skills training and individual and group therapy sessions. Essentially, DBT-SUD can improve recovery outcomes for co-occurring borderline personality disorder and amphetamine addiction.

If you or a loved one live with amphetamine addiction, contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative who can guide you through the initial steps of getting addiction treatment. Our facilities serve communities from Florida to Washington, specializing in a range of addiction recovery services. You deserve a healthier future; call today.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Candace Crowley, PhD
Dr. Candace Crowley received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and her Ph.D. in Immunology from UC Davis, where her thesis focused on immune modulation in childhood asthma. Read more

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.