Impulsive Personality Disorder and Alcoholism

Although many people are not familiar with the four types of borderline personality disorder (BPD), the differences between the types are substantial and important to understand. In certain instances, borderline personality disorder co-occurs with alcoholism, presenting a complex dual diagnosis.

What Is Impulsive Personality Disorder?

Impulsive personality disorder is often seen as the most charismatic of the borderline types. The impulsive type is extremely different from the other subtypes of borderline personality disorder, even to an untrained eye. While other subtypes of this disorder might make a person seem impressionable or broody, for instance, the impulsive type might seem magnetically enigmatic from the outside looking in. A person who has impulsive personality disorder is charming and good at being the center of attention. In fact, this kind of person thrives on receiving attention. He or she might be highly adventurous – even to the point of engaging in dangerous behavior – but this person is often also superficial.

People with the impulsive type of borderline personality disorder find it easy to be clever, witty, and exciting. These people can entrance almost anyone and draw perfect strangers into a conversation. However, a person with impulsive type BPD has difficulty truly connecting with others. While their charm and desire to be the center of attention often allows them to leave lasting impressions on those they have just recently met, it is difficult for a person with this subtype to have long-term relationships that are deeply meaningful. Instead, these people excel in the types of frivolous conversations and activities that only scratch the surface before they back away. Their evasiveness sometimes seems cued, and their mercurial nature has a tendency to seem compelling to others when paired with their other qualities.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is medically considered to be a disease. It is an addictive illness that is centered around a person’s dependence on alcohol. Alcoholism usually involves uncontrollable or compulsive behavior in the presence of alcohol. Alcoholism often negatively affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life.

Additionally, this disease has the capability to dangerously impact almost every organ in the body, including the brain, heart and liver. Alcoholism is a serious condition that requires equally serious treatment if a person is to fully recover from it.

How Are Impulsive Personality Disorder and Alcoholism Related?

People with impulsive personality disorder often have substance abuse issues. In many cases, the substance of choice for people with impulsive personality disorder is alcohol. This should come as no surprise. Those with impulsive type BPD love to be in the limelight and are typically viewed as social butterflies. Alcohol helps to facilitate this part of their disorder and lives.

People with borderline personality disorder usually suffer from anxiety, insecurity, and low self-esteem, even if these characteristics are not immediately noticeable. Alcohol can help to make these people feel more comfortable in the presence of others, but reliance on alcohol in this matter can quickly become a slippery slope that eventually spirals into full-blown alcoholism.

Signs of Impulsive Personality Disorder and Alcoholism

Some of the common signs of impulsive personality disorder are:

    • Flirtatious behavior
    • Elusive behavior
    • A tendency toward being dramatic
    • Risk-taking and thrill-seeking behaviors
    • Highly energetic
    • Easily bored or distracted
    • Charming and charismatic
    • A tendency to be in the limelight
    • Superficial
    • Engagement in behaviors that are attention-seeking
    • Manipulative
    • Complaints of chronic illness
    • Moodiness
    • Low self-esteem or unstable self-image
    • Dissociative states, especially when under stress
    • Highly emotional, even when the emotions seem like an inappropriate reaction to the stimuli
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Some of the common signs of alcoholism are similar to the signs of alcohol abuse, which experts make a distinction between. Signs of both alcoholism and alcohol abuse include:

  • An inability to cease drinking
  • An increased tolerance to alcohol and a necessity to drink an increasing amount in order to achieve the desired effect
  • A large amount of time regularly spent drinking and recovering from drinking
  • An avoidance of activities that do not involve alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur upon cessation of drinking
  • Neglected responsibilities at home, work or school
  • The use of alcohol in dangerous situations
  • Drinking as a way to cope with stress and general life difficulty
  • A lack of control with how frequently one drinks and how much

Who Is Affected by These Disorders?

Borderline personality disorder affects an estimated 1.6 percent of adults in the US on any given year. The disorder is much more commonly diagnosed in women than in men, which has been the subject of much discussion and criticism. Despite the causes for this discrepancy, women are still more likely to receive an official diagnosis for BPD today than men are. This disorder often manifests and is identified in late adolescence or young adulthood. Unfortunately, diagnosing BPD is often difficult, and it is not uncommon for sufferers to receive many incorrect diagnoses before finally arriving at an accurate assessment of their mental illness.
Alcoholism or alcohol abuse is thought to affect roughly 17 million Americans. Perhaps a factor in this large number is the fact that alcohol is legal and socially acceptable in the US. Although alcohol use can have incredibly serious side effects and consequences, alcohol use nonetheless plays a key role in many activities in the US, whether they are recreational or related to work or education. Because alcohol use is so casual and prevalent in the US, it is often difficult for an outsider to acknowledge alcoholism in another.


Like all mental illnesses, it is difficult to identify a sole factor as a cause for borderline personality disorder. This mental health condition is thought to be the result of multiple factors, all of which contribute to the complexity of the condition. However, researchers have been able to identify childhood trauma as a major potential cause for BPD. Other causes that have been supported through research include genetic factors, neurobiological factors, congenital brain abnormalities as well as other factors, like family instability.

Similar to impulsive personality disorder, alcoholism is thought to occur as a result of many different causes. Genetic factors are among the most common, however, accounting for nearly half of the risk for alcoholism across the board.

Treatment for Impulsive Type BPD and Alcoholism

When impulsive personality disorder and alcoholism coexist, it is important that both conditions are treated thoroughly to ensure a full recovery. There are no medications that treat BPD, but there are medications available that can help manage some of the symptoms of the disorder. Talk therapy is often considered to be the most effective method for treating BPD.

Alcoholism treatment should be taken seriously as an attempt to quit alcohol without medical supervision can be dangerous for those with severe cases of alcoholism. Treatment options for alcoholism include both medications and behavioral therapy.

People undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse might also be interested in incorporating one or more holistic activities which have been said or shown to improve the recovery process.

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Some of these activities to be considered include:

  • Yoga. Yoga can help to encourage the alcohol recovery process. The ancient practice provides a space where those who participate can become better aware of both their body and mind and the ways in which the two interact. This kind of movement, which has a heavy focus on meditation and reflection, can have calming effects on those who practice. Yoga has also been claimed to help manage anxiety, stress and depression, which are all conditions that a person suffering from alcohol abuse or impulsive type BPD might contend with.
  • Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy might be able to improve alcohol withdrawal and recovery. Some people claim that the use of aromatherapy during alcohol withdrawal helps to ease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms or otherwise aid in a more pleasant recovery process. Aromas can be inhaled in many different ways, but one of the most common methods involves the use of an oil diffuser. Essential oils are heated in a diffuser and then the aroma is dispersed into the surrounding space. Some of the essential oils that have been touted as beneficial for the recovery process include lavender oil, sandalwood oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, chamomile oil, ylang ylang oil, peppermint oil, jasmine oil, ginger oil and rosemary oil.

Discuss any possible alternative or holistic approaches to alcohol withdrawal and recovery with a licensed medical professional before initiating activities. Some sufferers of alcohol abuse might not be in a stable enough condition to engage in activities like yoga. If these types of activities and treatment methods are approved by a medical professional, however, they might ease the recovery process for a patient.

The First Step to Recovery

Recovering from these conditions can seem like an intimidating process. However, with comprehensive treatment, it is absolutely possible to once again lead a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. If you’d like to take the first step on your journey to recovery, pick up the phone and call us today.

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