Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment
Are you having trouble understanding and coping with your teen's mood swings? Are you worried your child may be using drugs or hanging around with kids who use drugs? If your teenager has changed from a normally developing preteen into an unpredictable and troubled adolescent, you may need to seek help from professional counselors specializing in adolescent borderline personality disorder (BPD) and substance abuse.
What is a Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders are mental disorders involving unhealthy, inflexible behavior patterns fueled by distorted thought processes. Teens suffering a personality disorder have difficulty correctly perceiving situations and other people's intentions. In most cases, teens and adults with a personality disorder are not aware they are affected and cannot understand why their actions lead to negative experiences.
In fact, personality disorders are harder to treat than schizophrenia simply because PDs do not respond well to medications meant to stabilize neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Instead, personality disorders like borderline personality disorder require intense psychological and behavioral therapy to help teens understand the nature of their mental disorder.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Although the cause of BPD is not clear, ongoing research suggests development of BPD is related to brain, genetic, environmental and social factors. Experiencing traumatic events (child neglect/abuse, parental abandonment), having functional and/or structural brain abnormalities affecting emotional and impulse control regulation and having parents or siblings with BPD are strong factors implicated in development of BPD in teens.
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is included in the "Cluster B" group of personality disorders defined by the DSM-5. Other PDs listed in Cluster B are antisocial, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. All involve the presence of erratic, emotional and dramatic displays of behaviors that interfere significantly with a person's ability to develop healthy relationships, maintain employment and make rational decisions.
Teens with BPD will present the following symptoms consistently over a range of six months or more:
- Mood instability: extreme moodiness not caused by external events is a symptom of all Cluster B personality disorders. Your teen may be laughing and joking with you one minute and angry, depressed or even aggressive the next. Mood instability shows the power of distorted thinking indicative of BPD.
- Fear of being abandoned or left alone: teens with BPD hate being alone. Although they may appear sociable, they are probably seeking any type of relationship with anyone, including drug or alcohol users. Insecurity, low self-esteem and lack of stable self-identity contribute to fears of being rejected.
- Uncontrollable anger: prone to violent temper tantrums and frequent angry outbursts, teens with borderline personality disorder may lash out and blame others for problems in their lives. Parents with BPD teens may have to call law enforcement when their child is out of control and threatening to harm them or destroy their home.
- Self-harming behaviors: many teens with BPD engage in "cutting" to relieve feelings of intense anxiety and low self-esteem. Cutting involves teens actually cutting themselves with razors, knives or other sharp objects. Psychiatrists think that self-injurious behaviors provide a sense of release, a "feel-good" feeling similar to drugs like cocaine that cause release of endorphins.
- Suicide ideation: thoughts of suicide plague teens with borderline personality disorder because they are consistently distressed by the consequences of their impulsive decisions and actions. Instead of seeing things in "gray" shades, they tend to see things as "black or white" or "all or nothing". For example, if a BPD teen is arrested for possessing drugs, they often blame others for their dilemma, claim nobody understands them and may state their life is "over" because nobody wants to help them.
Teens with BPD frequently use drugs and alcohol to suppress intensely painful feelings of emptiness, aloneness, anxiety and low self-esteem. If you think your teen has borderline personality disorder and is abusing addictive substances, our dedicated staff at the Teen Treatment Center will provide proven treatment methods to help restore your teen's mental health.
Getting treatment for teens with BPD and co-occurring substance addiction as early as possible is critical to successful outcomes. Our licensed staff has years of experience treating teens with mental health disorders and substance use disorders.
To learn more about our treatment options, please call us immediately at (844)319-5239 or chat with a counselor online. We're available to help 24/7.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens
DBT is a cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to help teens and adults suffering depression, suicidal ideations and self-harming behaviors indicative of borderline personality disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy has since been adjusted to address other challenging mental disorders such as PTSD, dual diagnosis/comorbidity (often seen in substance abusers), severe mood disorders and eating disorders.
Fundamental principles of dialectical behavior therapy include:
- Learning to take control of cognitive and emotional processes by identifying triggers that cause reactive states leading to distorted thought patterns or making irrational decisions
- Applying appropriate coping skills to stop unwanted thoughts and emotions and deter undesired behaviors
- Understanding that although people strive to do the best with what they have to work with, some simply lack certain life skills or have been influenced by negative and positive reinforcements that interfere with a teen's ability to achieve their goals and live a meaningful life
- Accepting reality for what it is but remaining committed to changing maladaptive behaviors
Instead of promoting a teen's view of the therapist as an authoritative figure, dialectical behavior therapy endeavors to have teens accept their counselors as allies instead of adversaries. Accordingly, DBT therapists refrain from critiquing a teen's feelings regardless of their justifiability. Instead, counselors aim to validate and accept a teen's feelings or thoughts at any given time. However, therapists trained in DBT will not hesitate to inform teens with BPD that some of their decisions, behaviors or emotions are maladaptive and will show them through DBT that there are better, more rational alternatives.
In DBT, emotion regulation concerns the ability to prevent escalation of negative feelings by understanding the biological (hormonal) relationship among thoughts, physical sensations, emotions and behaviors. Teens are taught that lack of sleep, lack of eating proper foods, abusing drugs and/or medications and not getting enough exercise may exacerbate psychological issues, while making a conscious effort to incorporate positive, life-affirming experiences in their daily lives may help overcome those same issues.
Specific DBT skills promoting emotion regulation include:
- Identifying and labeling both positive and negative emotions
- Identifying obstacles and triggers that prevent changing distorted thought patterns and emotions
- Increasing mindfulness about real-time emotions
- Learning to recognize and understand one's own body language, sensations and perceptions of events and actions taken.
Learning methods of distress tolerance allows teens to live through a particularly difficult moment without worsening their situation. Teens with borderline personality disorder and substance or behavioral addictions especially need to master distress tolerance techniques since engaging in self-destructive behavior often results from emotionally dealing with conflict.
Radical acceptance may sound like a self-defeating method of coping with conflict, but in DBT, radical acceptance means accepting something for what it is (willingness) instead of struggling to make it something a teen with BPD wants it to be. In other words, teens learn not to jump to conclusions while understanding they do not have to permit the situation to continue. It is a willingness to accept reality as it is, not as the teen thinks it should be.
Refusing to accept reality is one of the reasons why teens with BPD and substance abuse disorders find it so hard to overcome negative thought patterns and feelings that inevitably lead to self-destructive behaviors. DBT's radical acceptance technique combines mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation skills to help teens undersand the power that radical acceptance has to enrich their lives.
Moreover, learning that radical acceptance is not a prescription for passive behavior encourages teens to assert themselves in a logical and confident manner so they can begin changing their lives by taking control of their emotions, their behaviors and how others view them.
Help for BPD and Substance Abuse
Your teen's safety is our number one priority. At our facility, we provide 24-hour supervision in a safe and secure environment. Our dedicated staff will be with your teen throughout the entire process.
Our evidenced-based treatment will address your teen's specific needs, whether it's physical, psychological or emotional. To help your teen manage their mental illness and recover from their substance abuse issues without any distractions, we provide gender-separate treatment.
When your teen arrives at our facility, they can take full advantage of our comprehensive treatments and services including:
- One-on-one counseling
- Group therapy
- Academic support
- Family counseling
- Recreational therapy
- Baslic life skills
- Spiritual care
- Learning coping skills
Get your teen the help they need today. To learn more about our effective treatment plans, call us immediately at (844)319-5239. We are available to help you 24/7.
Read more about Borderline Personality Disorder on our Adult Treatment Page
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