What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder and How Can It Influence Addiction?

Use this guide to learn about how schizoid personality disorder influences addiction.

Table of Contents

What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder (ScPD)?

Personality disorders like schizoid personality disorder are tough enough to handle alone. Unfortunately, schizoid personality disorder frequently places individuals at risk of substance abuse or addiction due to its symptoms.

Understanding the link between schizoid personality disorder and addiction is crucial when pursuing treatment options. Below, we’ll break down both schizoid personality disorder and the effects it may have on different addiction types. In addition, we will go over potential treatment plans and pathways depending on patient needs.

A Further Look at ScPD

Schizoid personality disorder, or ScPD, is a rare personality disorder characterized by avoidance of social activities or connections.1 More specifically, those with ScPD may try to avoid interacting with other people as much as possible. They do this because they are either unable to understand communication cues or may feel a very limited range of emotional expression.

Although schizoid personality disorder is rare, between 3.1% and 4.9% of the US population may have this condition to some degree or another.2 In addition, men are more likely to have ScPD than women, which is also true for other conditions related to schizophrenia.

Typically, individuals with ScPD are seen as loners or antisocial, and they may feel dismissive of relationships or the feelings of others. To some, those with schizoid personality disorder could seem to lack empathy or be unable to show emotion. Indeed, ScPD could make it difficult for those suffering from it to feel emotion in the first place.3

Because schizoid personality disorder causes interpersonal stress and difficulties, people with this condition may be at a greater risk of substance abuse and addiction.

Schizoid Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, substance abuse is a common coping mechanism used by those with schizoid personality disorder or other mental disorders. Nonetheless, substance use disorder (SUD) isn’t a specific risk or symptom of ScPD.

The Link Between ScPD and Addiction

Those with ScPD might be at a greater risk of addiction or substance abuse, but not because of the symptoms of ScPD itself. Instead, they may be at a greater risk of addiction because ScPD frequently leads to other mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Substances can act as substitutes for social interactions, trigger dopamine release, or help alleviate the fatigue and discomfort associated with anxiety and depression. Those with ScPD might be at an even greater risk of substance abuse or addiction because they are unable to form pleasant, comfortable bonds with people or animals.

Because of this additional difficulty, those suffering from ScPD might be more likely to form a substance use disorder instead. Unfortunately, excessive use or abuse of drugs and alcohol can increase withdrawal from social interactions and may even lead to future symptoms of depression and anxiety in the long term.

How ScPD Influences Addiction

In essence, schizoid personality disorder may influence addiction by:

Making one more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol

Causing an individual to continue using drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms

Causing a person to form important emotional bonds with drugs or alcohol in place of important bonds with people

Since substance abuse is common among those with schizoid personality disorder and similar mental conditions, addiction treatment is often practiced in conjunction with ScPD treatment.

Drug Abuse Can Hinder ScPD Treatment

This is sometimes more challenging as regular drug abuse can hinder ScPD treatments, such as therapy. Therefore, some therapists or mental health professionals recommend dealing with addictions first and foremost before moving on to ScPD-specific treatments.

In such cases, addiction treatment centers, such as Bi-Bett, can be helpful for people to get their lives back on track. Inpatient or outpatient programs, sober living arrangements, and other solutions can help manage substance addiction and make space for therapy or other ScPD treatment techniques.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is often diagnosed as comorbid with substance abuse, meaning both are negatively affecting the other at the same time. Additionally, substance abuse could mask or intensify the various symptoms of ScPD.

Schizoid Personality Disorder and Alcohol

People who have schizoid personality disorder may choose alcohol more frequently than any other substance. This is partially because alcohol is easy to access compared to other drugs. Alcohol abuse can be especially dangerous for those suffering from ScPD, as alcohol can make them feel better temporarily or enhance their social lives artificially (even if this does not seem to be true from the outside).

Schizoid Personality Disorder and Marijuana

Alternatively, individuals might use marijuana as a social crutch. Marijuana can make people seem more detached or enrich their inner lives. For example, people with schizoid personality disorder could smoke marijuana to excuse their social tendencies or make themselves feel better despite lacking meaningful social connections with other people.

Schizoid Personality Disorder and Stimulants

Because schizoid personality disorder causes low social energy, stimulants could be dangerous. Stimulants increase energy levels and sociability, therefore, being a common coping mechanism to help them function relatively normally in society while masking their more severe symptoms.

Proper treatment is vital to ensure that patients do not suffer needlessly and other symptoms do not worsen over time.

Symptoms and Causes of Co-Occurring Addiction and Schizoid Personality Disorder

Symptoms and Causes of Co-Occurring Addiction and Schizoid Personality Disorder

The exact causes of addiction and schizoid personality disorder are not fully understood and are likely multivariable. For example, both addiction and ScPD are likely caused by a genetic component, meaning individuals are more likely to develop an addiction or schizoid personality disorder because one of their family members had/has it.

The symptoms of comorbid schizoid personality disorder and substance abuse include but are not limited to:
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Difficulty reacting appropriately to social situations
  • Feeling little desire for empathy or close relationships
  • Preferring solitude or enjoying activities in isolation to the extreme
  • Lack of motivation or goals
  • Lack of emotional relatability to others
  • Physical or mental pain when a preferred substance is denied or not available

However, there are treatment options for ScPD. Read on to learn more about overcoming this type of disorder and the variety of treatment options.

Treating Schizoid Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse

Although schizoid personality disorder and co-occurring substance abuse can be tough to treat, they are treatable. Multiple pathways to recovery are available depending on patients’ needs and resources.

Behavioral Therapy Sessions

Behavioral therapy sessions may help coach those with ScPD or addictions to better modify or control their behavior. Specifically, behavioral therapy sessions could help individuals with schizoid personality disorder learn to navigate social situations or interactions more gracefully. This may minimize anxiety or depression in said interactions.

One-on-One Counseling

One-on-one counseling sessions can help those with ScPD get to the bottom of their symptoms and take better control over their lives. This type of therapy is most effective when patients completely trust a therapist.

Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions could be very beneficial for those with ScPD. Many patients meet together to describe and discuss issues under therapist supervision. This social situation can help ScPD learn and master the social skills they need to thrive.

Family-Focused Therapy

Family-focused therapy brings close family members into the therapeutic process, offering support and unconditional love throughout. Such a technique could be useful for those whose primary interpersonal conflicts come from family members.

Relapse Prevention

While treating ScPD and its symptoms is important, relapse prevention is just as crucial. Relapse prevention strategies, such as regular substance control group meetings, sober living adjustments, and outpatient monitoring programs, can help addiction survivors take control over their lives and prevent backsliding at critical junctures.

Support Groups and 12-Step Meetings

As noted above, support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and 12-Step meetings may help those with schizoid personality disorder progress through their therapy with a measured, regular cadence. Structure is oftentimes very important for addiction recovery, especially for individuals suffering from comorbid conditions like ScPD and addiction.

Consistent Aftercare Support

Even after ScPD and addiction have been somewhat controlled, aftercare support is vital. Individuals with ScPD may seek aftercare support from family members and friends, therapists, and individuals they meet at support groups, such as sponsors.

Get Help with Comorbid Personality Disorders and Addiction Today

Tackling comorbid personality disorders and addiction simultaneously can be difficult; however, no one has to suffer alone. By reaching out to a professional treatment center, people can find the safest and most efficient path to recovery. Our staff at The PAC Program is prepared to help you or a loved one take that journey.

The PAC Program is a fully licensed and staffed addiction treatment center that helps people get back on the path to a healthy lifestyle. We offer a variety of treatment options ranging from residential treatments to outpatient treatments to inpatient detox procedures and more. With our help, people can overcome the symptoms of addiction and find the help they need to handle their schizoid personality disorder symptoms today. Contact us for more information.

No one is alone when it comes to overcoming addiction. The PAC Program is ready to help, so call us today to learn more.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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