Avoidant Personality Disorder and Drug Addiction Treatment

Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) is a deeply distressing, chronic mental health disorder affecting an estimated 1% of the population. Characterized by extreme feelings of inadequacy and an enduring preoccupation with what others think about you, Avoidant Personality Disorder can severely impair social and professional function and damage your quality of life. Unfortunately, many people with this disorder do not seek out treatment for fear of being judged, leaving them to struggle alone, and they often turn to substance abuse to quell feelings of despair.

Fear and Self-Loathing

While it is normal and healthy to consider the opinions of others, people with Avoidant Personality Disorder are paralyzed by those opinions and live in constant fear of criticism, ridicule, and rejection. As a result, you may experience tremendous fear of social interactions and go out of your way to avoid work, school, or any other activities that put you in contact with other people. Any overt or perceived disapproval is taken as confirmation of your pre-existing belief that you are inept or inferior, and further damages your low self-esteem.

In order to cope with the pain of Avoidant Personality Disorder and escape the possibility of criticism, people with this condition often self-isolate and have limited social networks. The disorder can greatly impair everyday function both personally and professionally, cause overwhelming emotional distress, and lead to deep and painful loneliness. While symptoms may emerge as early as childhood, most people are not diagnosed until they are adults, and symptoms tend to be experienced most intensely in young adults.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

People with ADP may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Avoiding social, professional, and educational activities due to fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • Believing that they are unwelcome in social situations.
  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority
  • Reluctance to take risks or try new activities

Often the symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder intensify over time and any negative social interactions further fuel your desire to isolate yourself from the world around you.

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Avoidant Personality Disorder and Addiction

The pain of APD can seem overwhelming, and you may experience deep and unrelenting emotional distress that makes everyday life feel unbearable. Many people struggling with this condition turn to drugs to escape their suffering, to experience euphoric relief, or to cope with social situations they cannot avoid. For some, drugs offer a way of increasing sociability and confidence, allowing you to briefly feel “normal.” However, these effects are fleeting and, over time, substance abuse can give way to addiction, driving you into a cycle of self-destruction, adding a new layer to your suffering, and often increasing social paranoia and self-isolation.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Modern therapeutic modalities can help people with Avoidant Personality Disorder find lasting relief from symptoms and restore healthy function. If you are struggling with APD and co-occurring substance addiction, it is imperative that you seek dual diagnosis treatment that effectively treats both disorders simultaneously to nourish your psychological health and address the full scope of your needs.

In order to optimize your ability to recover from the distress of Avoidant Personality Disorder and make the emotional and behavioral changes necessary to create freedom from addiction, your treatment plan must be tailored to your unique situation. A broad spectrum, comprehensive approach is considered the gold standard in dual diagnosis treatment, and offers you multiple paths toward recovery that typically include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • 12-step support groups

Although there is no medication specifically for Avoidant Personality Disorder, pharmacological treatments may be administered to address specific symptoms or to treat other co-occurring mental health disorders.

It is common for people with Avoidant Personality Disorder to feel overwhelming apprehension about participating in the treatment process, which is inherently a social experience; the wrong treatment setting can aggravate symptoms and prevent engagement in the therapeutic process. As such, it is essential to seek help in a warm environment in which you are made to feel welcome and secure, allowing you to benefit from the support of both clinicians and peers as you begin your journey toward recovery. The right treatment program will allow you to overcome your social fears, nurture your sense of self, and develop true confidence, joy, and resilience without the use of drugs or alcohol.

If you would like more information about substance addiction and Avoidant Personality Disorder, or have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer support and guidance to help you find the right path toward healing and renewed wellness.