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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida: Examines Current Treatments for Personality Disorders and Substance Use Disorders

Personality disorders and substance use disorders, conditions that frequently occur together, can be highly debilitating. The mortality rate for a person with both conditions is 10 to 15 times higher than for a person with neither condition.

In an article titled “What’s Old is New Again: Updated Findings on Personality Disorders and Substance Use Disorders” published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry, University of Florida researchers review the state of the science on the prevalence, biological and behavioral pathways, and treatments for co-occurring personality and substance use disorders.

“Personality disorders and substance use disorders have been linked since the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders came out in 1952. In that definition, substance use disorders were considered a part of personality disorders. The definitions have changed since then, but the strong relationship between the two has not,” said lead author Mr. Nathan Smith, a doctoral student in epidemiology in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions (PHHP) and the UF College of Medicine.

Mr. Smith authored the paper with his mentor, Dr. Linda B. Cottler, a dean’s professor of epidemiology and PHHP’s associate dean for research. They evaluated 39 recent studies on personality and substance use disorders. The presence of both disorders can complicate treatment, but these disorders are treatable, and new and better treatments are being developed all the time, Mr. Smith said.

“We report on a number of promising interventions that are already under development,” Mr. Smith said. “While the future might be genetic or pharmaceutical interventions, the current talk therapies can be very effective.”

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