Personality Disorder and Comorbidity - The Adolescent Brain on Drugs
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a consistent pattern of volatile emotionality, unstable relationships, impulsive and self-damaging behaviors (i.e. binge eating, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse), and repeated suicidal gestures. Psychologists who specialize in treating BPD have successfully worked with many individuals diagnosed with BPD, assisting them in building awareness regarding their emotions and decreasing harmful behaviors. However, research suggests that individuals with BPD are at an increased risk for having additional, coexisting psychiatric conditions. For example, studies have found that between 61% and 87% of individuals diagnosed with BPD also have major depressive disorders.
Similar rates have also been found for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and eating disorders. Due to these high rates of co-occurrence, accurate psychological assessment is extremely important, as it enables an individual to receive appropriate treatment addressing all diagnoses. Thorough psychological assessments with individuals with co-occurring conditions can assist in ensuring that accurate diagnoses translates to the best comprehensive care for the individual.
Research suggests that teens may become addicted and relapse more easily than adults because their developing brains are more motivated by drug-related cues. Adolescent rats given cocaine were more likely than adults to prefer the place where they got it from, indicating higher sensitivity to drug-associated environments.
After extinguishing the drug-linked preference, a small reinstating dose rekindled that preference, but only in the adolescent rats. These results reinforce previous evidence that teen brains get stuck on drug-related stimuli more easily than adult brains and are most likely to become addicted. Cortical remodeling, how it associates reward cues to consequences, and drug exposure during adolescence may produce drug-linked associations that are extremely difficult to change, reduce, or extinguish. Adolescent addicts may require atypical strategies for drug abuse intervention such as longer treatment and substituting with different rewards such as exercise or music.