Cocaine is a highly addictive drug with stimulant effects. People who use it recreationally report feelings of euphoria, alertness and high energy. Cocaine use creates feelings of anxiety, paranoia and irritability. People who use cocaine may snort, smoke or inject it in order to achieve a high.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental disorder that can often co-occur with other mental health problems or substance use disorders

People with borderline personality disorder often display changing moods and behaviors along with high impulsivity which can lead to interpersonal problems. Sufferers may experience intense anger, depression and anxiety which continues for hours or days, and opinions on people or situations may change dramatically and rapidly. 

It is estimated that almost 6% of the U.S. population struggles with BPD at some point in their lives, and it affects men and women equally.

People with borderline personality disorder often struggle with substance use disorders as well, possibly because the symptoms of borderline personality disorder can be overwhelming, or since the impulsivity associated with BPD can lead to drug use. People with borderline personality disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol as these substances may seem to temporarily help symptoms of helplessness, anxiety or other emotional symptoms related to their disorder. 

Almost 73% of people with BPD have a substance use disorder, which can include cocaine use, during some point in their lifetimes. 

Can Cocaine Cause Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is not thought that substances like cocaine cause borderline personality disorder. The cause of borderline personality disorder is unknown, although genetics, social factors, and family environment probably play a role in its development. 

Use of cocaine or other substances is common in people with BPD, which is perhaps why some people may think that drug use can cause the disorder. 

For people undergoing treatment for cocaine dependence, the prevalence of co-occurring BPD has been reported at anywhere from 18% to 34% of them. Cocaine use can certainly be associated with BPD, but it has not been found to cause the condition. 

People suffering from BPD sometimes find that substance use seems to make them feel better. People with BPD who also struggle with cocaine addiction may have a more difficult time in drug rehabilitation as well.

Does Cocaine Affect Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms?

For some people with borderline personality disorder, a stimulant drug like cocaine might mask feelings of shame or helplessness, since cocaine causes a sense of euphoria. However, cocaine can also increase a person’s anxiety level, which may cause sensations of panic or fear. Aggressive behavior or rage may also occur with cocaine use, which further complicates the scenario.

Cocaine can definitely affect BPD symptoms and it frequently worsens them. 

Since cocaine use is illegal and unregulated, the presence of unknown substances in the drug can also cause negative effects for a person with BPD. It is best for people with BPD to avoid using any drugs or substances, including cocaine, and to treat their symptoms in a medical setting.

Treating Cocaine Addiction and Comorbid Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality is difficult to treat, even without co-occurring substance use disorders. People with BPD have high therapy dropout rates, and can be even more impulsive when they are dependent on substances, further complicating the treatment and recovery process.

One type of therapy that is effective for treating BPD is called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). This modality utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) along with mindfulness training to help those with borderline personality disorder control their impulses, improve tolerance of stressful situations and regulate their emotions.

One version of DBT treats co-occurring borderline personality and substance use disorders (DBT-SUD). It involves group therapy to help people learn standard DBT skills and additional skills to prevent recurrence of cocaine use. Research has found that DBT-SUD has led to improved recovery outcomes for both disorders

Key Points: Cocaine and Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Cocaine does not cause borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorder, including cocaine use, is common in people with borderline personality disorder
  • Co-occurring substance use with borderline personality can make treatment difficult
  • Special therapy modalities, including dialectical behavioral therapy can have positive treatment outcomes for both borderline personality disorder and cocaine use disorder

The Recovery Village offers treatment for both cocaine addiction and borderline personality disorder. Our facilities serve communities from Florida to Washington, specializing in a range of addiction recovery services. Connect with our team today to learn more.