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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012 Aug;20(4):333-44. doi: 10.1037/a0027999. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

Treatment for comorbid borderline personality disorder and alcohol use disorders: a review of the evidence and future recommendations.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.


There is a high degree of comorbidity between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and alcohol use disorders (AUDs). There is some evidence that this pattern of comorbidity may be associated with poorer prognosis. Although there are many different psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments for BPD and AUDs when they occur alone, there are very few treatment options when they occur together. The objective of this article was to review the existing treatment options-both psychotherapeutic and pharmacological-for patients with dual diagnoses of BPD and AUDs and to explore alternative treatment options that warrant further study. There have been a number of studies that have examined the efficacy of specific psychotherapies targeting drinking among patients with comorbid BPD; however, their efficacy in reducing BPD symptoms is unknown. There are also three psychotherapies that were specifically developed for patients with BPD and substance use disorders (SUDs), but only one of these (Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy) has been tested among patients with dual diagnoses of BPD and AUDs. Research on pharmacotherapy for dual diagnoses of BPD and AUD is scarce, and no study has yet explored medication options that can concurrently manage symptoms of BPD and decrease alcohol consumption. Interestingly, there is growing evidence that anticonvulsants and second generation antipsychotics, the recent medications of choice for the management of BPD symptoms, may also reduce alcohol craving and consumption. Although premature, these findings are encouraging especially for this population of patients for whom treatment options are very limited.

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