With the possibility of increased anxiety due to Histronic Personality Disorder, some may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.

Personality disorders can create a world around a person that they see as impossible to adapt to. People with a histrionic personality disorder often struggle with feeling as if they are normal and other people around them are overreacting to their behavior or are insensitive towards them. Histrionic personality disorder may cause impairment in the way people function and can cause serious internal distress.

These continued inner experiences and behavior stray from the expectations of people around them and people may not view them as acceptable values. Histrionic personality disorder has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood and affects the way a person thinks, perceives and relates to other people. A common representation of histrionic personality disorder may be acting out in a very emotional and dramatic way to receive attention.

With or without meeting the diagnosis for histrionic personality disorder, drugs and alcohol use may begin to change someone. Drugs can affect the individual creating brain chemistry miscommunications, which may lead to a personality disorder or other mental disorder. A person’s personality disorder may lead them to act out with risky behaviors and they might abuse drugs or alcohol until addiction occurs.

Drug Abuse as a Hindrance to Histrionic Personality Disorder Treatment

Because of the nature and characteristics of a histrionic personality, people affected by the disorder may have trouble in relationships and a difficult time coping with major loss or failure. These struggles may lead to increased risk for depression or anxiety, which may contribute to a dual diagnosis with substance use disorder. When a person has a personality disorder and substance use, they may experience twice the hardship.

Drug abuse can hinder the successful treatment of histrionic personality disorder. When an individual uses drugs or alcohol to relax or calm down, they may not feel they have a drug problem. Even if treatment is sought out for the personality disorder as well as the underlying issues that may have caused the disorder, the continued use of alcohol or drugs can cause the patient to experience similar distress.

Related Topic: Histrionic personality disorder treatment

Effects of Substance Abuse on Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms

With the change in brain chemistry from substance abuse, many mental illnesses begin to grow worse, because the abused substance intensifies many symptoms.  The patient may begin to abuse more of the substance, fueling a negative, ongoing cycle.

Because of this devastating cycle, it is critical that anyone who lives with a co-occurring disorder receive not only treatment for addiction treatment, but treatment for the personality disorder at the same time. Treatment may ensure that a person has a chance of sobriety and a better chance of recovery.

People who have histrionic personality disorder get enjoyment from creating dramatic situations. Histrionic personality disorder typically combines character traits that include being highly emotional, charming, manipulative, seductive, demanding, energetic or impulsive. Adding drugs and alcohol to this mix of existing dramatic traits can exacerbate the symptoms and create even more conflict in their lives. Alcohol can increase the person’s present risky behavior, placing the individual in danger.

Histrionic Personality Disorder and Alcohol

Most people with histrionic personality disorder use drugs and alcohol to escape the emotional pain and distress they feel daily. They view their situation as much worse than it is and are constantly attempting to draw attention to them for reassurance. Alcohol may be used as a self-medicating attempt for these individuals because it allows them a temporary high without going to a therapist for their problems.

The co-occurrence of alcoholism and a histrionic personality is thought to occur because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Because these individuals have intense emotional outbursts, alcohol may help them reduce the intensity of these feelings. While seeking to suppress these unwanted feelings, repeated incidents of drinking may lead to an alcohol use disorder.

Marijuana Abuse and Histrionic Personality Disorder

Marijuana use is strongly associated with histrionic personality disorder. The patient commonly sees the worst circumstances in their life, like a small hurdle in a relationship to be much more than it is, so marijuana may be an escape. Some people may look to marijuana to help them calm their mind so that they are not overreacting or acting out in ways that cause conflict with other people. Marijuana can allow someone to relax and prepare for a social situation or help them worry less about desiring constant attention.

Since this is a temporary feeling, the symptoms may return. Because of this short-lived feeling of ordinary emotions, the patient may begin to use marijuana more often until it becomes a daily routine.

Histrionic Personality Disorder and Stimulants

Stimulants may be prescribed to help treat underlying conditions or suspected conditions for people with histrionic personality disorder; however, they could use them illicitly. Stimulants create a temporary increase in alertness and energy. With short-term side-effects of exhaustion and depression that immediately follow the high feeling, patients might want to use the drug again.

Stimulants can be addictive and can lead to feelings of aggression, overreacting or paranoia, which may already be present in histrionic personality disorder patients. High doses may result in dangerously high body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat, which can stimulate the anxiety already present.

Drug Abuse as a Cause of Histrionic Personality Disorder

There is no proof that drugs or alcohol cause histrionic personality disorder, even though people with the disorder have above average rates of substance abuse. These people may behave rashly, make impulsive decisions when they are drinking and have personal or relationship problems related to their alcohol use.

It is possible that the same genetic factors that contribute to drug or alcohol addiction also encourage the development of histrionic personality disorder. People with histrionic personality disorder may use alcohol or drugs to escape their fears of abandonment or to numb feelings of worthlessness and incompetence. However, they may abuse substances as a means of self-destruction or to fill the deep sense of emptiness that they feel when they’re sober.

If you are or a loved one is struggling with a substance use or co-occurring disorder like histrionic personality disorder, The Recovery Village can help.  A team of professionals provides a number of treatment programs for substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which program could work for you.

Related Topic: 5 Myths About Histrionic Personality Disorder

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Editor – Jennifer Kopf
Jennifer Kopf is a Florida-based writer who likes to balance creative writing with helpful and informative pieces. Her passion for helping people has translated into writing about the importance of treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Krisi Herron, LCDC
Krisi Herron is an Adjunct Psychology Professor, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and a freelance writer who contributes to several mental health blogs. Read more
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.