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Histrionic Personality Disorder and Addiction

Personality disorders are mental health conditions that are characterized by long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differ from the norm. These types of mental disorders cause individuals to have an unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving. In other words, their personality is affected immensely by the disorder they suffer from. 

There are several different types of personality disorders. Most people who have one of these mental health conditions do not realize it, because their manner of thinking and behaving seems normal to them. 

The different types of personality disorders include:

  • Paranoid personality disorder 
  • Schizoid personality disorder 
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder 
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder 
  • Narcissistic personality disorder 
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder 

Many people who suffer from personality disorders have a hard time coping with the symptoms that come along with their mental health condition. This causes them to seek outside forms of relief, leading to self-medication through drugs and alcohol. One of the most common personality disorders to co-occur with drug addiction is histrionic personality disorder.

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a mental health condition characterized by unstable and intense emotions along with a distorted self-image. The word “histrionic” means dramatic. People with this condition rely on the approval of others for their self-worth, causing them to have an overwhelming need to be noticed or receive attention. 

Their need for attention often causes them to behave inappropriately to receive the validation they seek. However, the individual may not realize that their behavior is problematic, as it is a part of their personality disorder. 

Histrionic personality disorder belongs to the “cluster b” of personality disorders. This cluster of personality disorders is marked by dramatic and erratic behavior. Other personality disorders that belong to this cluster include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder 

To be diagnosed with HPD, people must display 5 or more of the following personality traits:[1]

  • Needing to be the center of attention 
  • Having shallow and shifting emotions 
  • Vague and impressionistic speech 
  • Being easily influenced by others 
  • Believing that relationships are closer than they are 
  • Displaying dramatic or exaggerated emotions 
  • Using appearance to draw attention 
  • Behaving seductively or provocatively to gain attention 

The Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

The main behavior associated with people who have histrionic personality disorder is displaying superficial emotions and using their sexuality to draw attention to themselves. This means that many people who suffer from HPD may appear promiscuous.[2] 

A person with HPD may:

  • Constantly see reassurance or approval 
  • Need instant gratification and become bored very easily 
  • Seem fake or shallow in their interactions with others 
  • Believe their relationships are closer than they are 
  • Be easily influenced by people they admire 
  • Have a hard time maintaining relationships 
  • Express strong opinions without facts to back them up 
  • Feel underappreciated and depressed when they are not the center of attention 
  • Experience rapidly shifting shallow emotions 
  • Be extremely emotionally expressive and embarrass their friends and family as a result 
  • Have a larger-than-life presence 
  • Be overly concerned with their physical appearance and use it to gain attention 
  • Be persistently flirtatious and charming 
  • Act sexually inappropriate with most people they meet, even if they are not sexually attracted to them 

How are Histrionic Personality Disorder and Addiction Related?

Substance abuse is commonly seen among individuals who struggle with a personality disorder. And, substance abuse or addiction is most common in personality disorders that have a propensity for attention-seeking behavior. This means that people with HPD are at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. 

People with co-occurring addiction and a personality disorder often exhibit more severe symptoms of substance abuse, such as engaging in IV drug use. Additionally, they are likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and have a harder time adjusting to a professional treatment program. 

While the normal population has a prevalence of personality disorders from 10% to 14.8%, 34.8% to 73% of people who suffer from addiction also have a personality disorder.[3] This means that addiction is increasingly more common among people with personality disorders like HPD. 

Because HPD is a cluster b personality disorder, people with this condition are more likely to engage in impulsive behavior and have a hard time controlling their impulses in general. This is similar to substance use disorders, as individuals with this condition cannot control their impulses to use drugs. Because of this, suffering from unmanaged HPD and addiction can be dangerous, as people are more likely to abuse large amounts of drugs in risky manners.

Treating HPD and Substance Abuse 

When someone suffers from both HPD and a substance use disorder, they must receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously. Dual diagnosis rehab centers combine traditional addiction treatment methods with evidence-based mental health tactics, providing a combination program that is extremely beneficial for people with co-occurring disorders.

Patients seeking treatment for histrionic personality disorder and addiction can benefit from treatment that includes:

  • Medical drug detox
  • Addiction education classes
  • Group counseling
  • Individual therapy to address the root cause of substance abuse
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient manage emotions and triggers
  • Supportive psychotherapy to improve self-esteem and learn coping mechanisms 
  • Relapse prevention planning to prevent a slip-up in sobriety 

Find Treatment for Histrionic Personality Disorder and Addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, it’s time to get help. Dealing with these co-occurring disorders can become dangerous quickly, as both conditions cause impulsive and risky behavior. This puts you at an increased risk of experiencing a drug overdose.

Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment programs like Mandala Healing Center can help you overcome the symptoms of addiction and learn to manage your mental health condition(s). Contact us today for more information on how to get started.