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Borderline Personality Disorder

Teens with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may or may not be aware that they are suffering from a personality disorder, but they certainly know that they are unhappy in their own skin. The inner chaos of BPD causes extreme shame, and teens falsely believe that they are at fault for their destructive feelings and behaviors.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

young man looking thinking

Teens who suffer from this disorder are more likely to drink alcohol and engage in drug abuse. Though substance abuse may begin as a coping mechanism to help ease the pain of BPD, the two problems can quickly become a vicious cycle.

Treating BPD in teens is difficult, and involves a lifelong commitment to recovery. Symptoms often subside significantly by middle age, but your child cannot wait that long to be healthy. Our team of medical and mental health professionals at Next Generation Village can help your child overcome their addiction and find healing from BPD.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a severe mental condition marked by the pervasive emotional instability that impacts mood, relationships, behavior and self-image. Of course, the teenage years are often already riddled with emotional outbursts and self-esteem issues. But BPD presents symptoms with much greater intensity than they do in an unaffected child.

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from this personality disorder, look for the following signs of BPD:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to manage emotions at an age-appropriate level
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships of all natures
  • Rage without justification
  • “Black and white” thought patterns
  • Extreme mood swings of varying durations
  • Intolerance of being alone
  • Recurring suicidality and self-harm behavior

Only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose BPD, but these symptoms may be a starting point for you.

What Causes BPD in Teens?

There is no confirmed cause for BPD, but mental health experts have several theories:

  • Genetics – Most personality disorders involve a genetic element and may be seen in multiple family members.
  • Neurological Abnormalities – Symptoms such as impulsivity, emotional instability, and erratic behavior can indicate brain abnormalities.
  • Chemical Imbalances – Brain chemicals can affect the way people feel and behave. Those with BPD may not be able to process or generate some important chemicals, like serotonin, leading to mood swings and other BPD symptoms.
  • Dysfunctional Family Environment – Children who are emotionally neglected don’t have the chance to learn healthy coping mechanisms, and may resort to the destructive behavior patterns of BPD.

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

mother and teenage daughter arguing

Borderline personality disorder and addiction commonly occur together. It is tough to cope with BPD, which drives many sufferers to drugs and alcohol to numb their painful feelings. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol only serve to exacerbate BPD symptoms, creating a cycle of addiction and mental illness.

Multiple studies have linked BPD and substance abuse, and have found that people with BPD are at a higher risk for addiction — which makes sense since issues with drugs or alcohol and BPD share risk factors. For example, teens who experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse are more likely to develop both BPD and a substance abuse disorder.

Treating BPD and addiction is difficult but by no means impossible. Our team has seen teens succeed through several different forms of therapy, namely those that focus on self-acceptance. And for some, borderline personality disorder treatment may include psychiatric medicine such as antidepressants.

Treatment goals for borderline personality disorder usually surround a reduction in the severity of BPD symptoms, but this requires an intentional shift in thinking. Though outpatient rehab can be effective, there are many benefits to therapy and residential treatment for co-occurring disorders like BPD.

Whether your child does residential or outpatient treatment with us, our program at Next Generation Village teaches teens with BPD to do the following:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Manage triggers
  • Tolerate and regulate emotions
  • Self-soothe
  • Create a support system

Does Your Child Need Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction?

therapist consoling young woman

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, start looking into treatment centers for borderline personality disorder and addiction. Be sure to find a facility that focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just eliminating their maladaptive behaviors.


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specializes in treating teen addiction alongside co-occurring mental health disorders. Every child receives an individualized treatment program based on their recovery needs and benefits from regular therapy with our master’s level therapists, doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals. Our goal is to see your child get well again — for the long term.

If your child is suffering, call us for a confidential, free conversation about your situation. There are no obligations, just help. Make today the day your child’s recovery begins.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.


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