Personality disorder and treatment outcome in alcohol use disorder

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Abstract

Purpose of review

As personality disorder impacts the outcome of most major mental disorders, it would be consistent for it to impact negatively on the outcome of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). This update is to provide an up-to-date overview of the recent literature examining the impact of personality disorder and personality traits on the treatment outcome of AUDs.

Recent findings

Comorbidity between personality disorder and AUD is significant and approaches 50%. Patients with AUD and comorbid personality disorder are substantially less likely to remain in treatment, drink more per drinking day and drink more frequently. If retained in treatment, comorbidity does not, however, lead to poorer outcomes. Relapse to drinking is more common in patient with high novelty seeking and lower reward dependence and persistence. Reporting from most studies is of moderate-to-poor quality and a single high-quality study may alter these findings. Landmark alcohol studies are notably quiet on the impact of personality on AUD treatment outcome.

Summary

Both personality disorder and higher novelty seeking impact negatively on the treatment outcome of AUD. As personality disorder is common in this group, clinicians engaged in AUD treatment should screen for personality disturbance, either disorder or high novelty seeking.

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