Dependent Personality Disorder and Addiction

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Dependent personality disorder (DPD for short) is a condition where a person feels terrified about being alone or abandoned. People with dependent personality disorder are entirely dependent on others. This disorder can eventually lead to substance abuse and other negative consequences that require several dependent personality disorder treatments.

A person struggling with this type of personality disorder is usually completely reliant on a relationship in order to meet all their needs (emotionally and physically). The reason people develop DPD is currently unknown. However, a number of factors may contribute to someone having DPD.

Dependent personality disorder can be an intense and crippling disorder for some. At Free by the Sea, we understand how tough disorders like DPD can really be. Our trusted and accommodating staff will be with you every step of the way to ensure comfort and support. There is no reason you should have to go through this alone, let us be your guide towards a better life.

Factors that Contribute to DPD

DPDCases of dependent personality disorder are usually caused by a number of reasons. There is no concrete answer as to why people develop DPD. On the information that we have now, there are a couple of factors that may be the underlying cause of DPD, these include:

  • Trauma
  • Genetics
  • Separation anxiety
  • Environmental factors
  • Overprotective parenting
  • Chronic physical illness

Regardless of why someone may develop DPD, it is important to get help. DPD can be an intense and painful experience for the person. This disorder causes the person to forfeit their personal identity while another person’s decisions (typically in a relationship) dictate the individual’s life. Fortunately, there are a number of dependent personality disorder treatments available to you.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

There are a variety of symptoms associated with DPD. Together, these symptoms can make everyday tasks difficult and can be the cause of stress. It’s important to be wary of these signs so you can get the proper care for a loved one or friend in need. Common DPD symptoms include:

  • Trouble being alone
  • Troubles starting projects
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Extremely sensitive to criticism of any kind
  • Tolerant towards mistreatment and abuse from others
  • Placing the needs of others/caregivers above their own
  • Avoiding personal responsibilities (specifically those that require independence)
  • Avoiding any form of disagreement with others out of fear of losing approval
  • Difficulty making normal, everyday decisions without the reassurance of those around them
  • Feelings of helplessness or devastation when a relationship ends and a need to begin a new relationship quickly

In some cases, people confuse dependent personality disorder with borderline personality disorder (BPD). With borderline personality disorder, a person’s fear of being alone occurs with feelings of anger and rage. On the other hand, a person with DPD will likely be passive and submissive instead of angry.

Dependent Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

When someone is dealing with a mental disorder as intense as DPD, it is not uncommon for them to turn towards substances. The person may use drugs or drink alcohol to cope with their symptoms. It is also not uncommon to see prescription drug abuse in the lives of individuals who suffer from a dependent personality disorder.

Prescription medication can be a slow-acting process, sometimes their effects don’t occur until weeks later. A person struggling with DPD might get impatient because they aren’t getting the desired results. This may result in the person abusing the medication over time.

People struggling with DPD might fall deep into addiction after continuous substance abuse. Sometimes symptoms might be too hard to cope with, which results in the person turning to drugs and alcohol for relief. This situation always worsens when drug and alcohol abuse occur in combination with DPD.

The Effects of Substance Abuse on Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms

While many people who struggle with DPD may turn to substance abuse to cope with their symptoms, the long-term effects are negative. Substance abuse affects not only the body but the mind as well. There are a number of negative psychological effects that drugs can have on the mind.

Abusing drugs while suffering from a mental illness is referred to as a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous over time. What tends to happen is both the mental disorder and the addiction start to feed off each other.

Over time, the symptoms of DPD will only get worse with drug abuse. Many people may get short-term relief when abusing alcohol and drugs but this only worsens the symptoms over time. During treatment, alcohol and drug abuse can also deter dependent personality disorder treatments because of underlying mental issues.

Here are a few commonly abused drugs and their effects on DPD:

  • Alcohol – While it provides short-term relief, it doesn’t take long for someone to become dependent on alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a common sight in cases of co-occurring DPD.
  • Stimulants – Stimulants can work to treat some of the symptoms of DPD. However, stimulants can cause a number of problems when used excessively, for long periods of time.
  • Marijuana – Individuals may use marijuana to relax and relieve some of the symptoms of DPD and other disorders. However, when the ‘high’ is gone, the symptoms may return.
  • Opioids – Unfortunately, this type of drug is one people commonly abuse. Opioids can be highly addictive. People may take opioids to escape some of the symptoms and effects of DPD on their minds.

Treating Dependent Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders

In cases of co-occurring disorders, both drug addiction and mental disorders are treated separately. This requires specialized treatment and a full treatment method like inpatient or residential rehab. At Free by the Sea, we understand the importance of getting the right level of treatment and achieving long-term recovery. Let us help you towards a better life with our dependent personality disorder treatments.

Treating dependent personality disorder requires long-term behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, there is no set cure for DPD. There are only a few different therapy options that can help a person deal with DPD and the world around them.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is one of the best ways to deal with both drug addiction and DPD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used therapy options in the case of co-occurring disorders. CBT helps a person change their thought processes and behaviors.

In cases of DPD, a person may be in a toxic relationship with another person or may exhibit an intense fear of abandonment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps a person change the way they think about themselves and their thoughts. This can help people struggling with DPD be more independent and build confidence in themselves.

In cases of addiction, behavioral therapy helps reframe a person’s addiction and substance abuse. Similarly to dealing with a mental disorder, therapy options like CBT can change an addict’s mind-set. This can make a big difference when it comes to long-term recovery and sobriety in the future.


Medication isn’t usually prescribed for cases of dependent personality disorders. However, medication can work for certain symptoms that may arise, such as depression or anxiety. Medication can also treat some cases of drug addiction (also to tame some of the severe withdrawal symptoms). This is not a complete cure for either substance addiction or DPD but it can certainly aid the process.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient (also called residential treatment) offers the best and most comprehensive treatment for both DPD and drug addiction. This type of rehab allows you to reside in a trustworthy treatment center like Free by the Sea. We offer 24/7 assistance and are ready to help you at a moment’s notice.

With cases of co-occurring, it is often best to get inpatient treatment. When dealing with both drug addiction and mental illness, it can be highly beneficial to have help at a moment’s notice. Additionally, treating both cases requires unique and intense treatment for long-term recovery.

While other treatment options like outpatient treatment may also help with DPD and drug addiction, co-occurring disorders are best solved with residential treatment. Free by the Sea offers an accommodating and passionate team that is ready to help you and your loved ones. You deserve the best treatment, don’t wait to get help.

Get Help Today

Dependent personality disorder can be a crippling disorder for a person and those around them. Luckily, rehab centers like Free by the Sea offer a variety of dependent personality disorder treatments personalized just for you. Don’t wait to get help, contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and other drug addiction resources.