narcissism and alcoholism: When 2 Evils Meet

DateDec 23, 2022

A loved one’s drinking and selfish behavior can be devastating and cause a great deal of pain and disappointment. If you’ve ever wondered if your loved one’s issues involve only their drinking problem or may in fact involve narcissism as well, consider the following symptoms. Treating both disorders while at a recovery treatment center can help a person remain sober once they’ve completed the program. ​​​​When someone is deep in an alcohol addiction, they become very self-absorbed. To friends, family, and even coworkers, it can seem as though the alcoholic will sacrifice everything to be able to drink. Alcoholism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder have some overlapping behaviors.

If left unchecked, alcohol abuse can progress into physical dependence on alcohol and even an alcohol addiction. Many of these effects are dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed. Someone could have a desirable mood change after a drink or two but undesirable mood changes with inappropriate or aggressive behaviors with additional drinks. As people continue drinking, they risk overwhelming their system with alcohol and experiencing alcohol poisoning. All personality and substance abuse disorders are diagnosed based on a strict set of criteria described in the DSM-5.

Overlapping causes and risk factors

Vulnerable alcoholic narcissists are usually trying to hide an underlying shame and use alcohol to cope. Unlike grandiose narcissists, they are likely to admit that they have a problem with alcohol. Alternatively, having a narcissistic personality disorder can make a person more susceptible to the abuse of alcohol. An alcoholic narcissist has an excessively grand view of themself, or they’re using alcohol to help cope with an underlying shame.

narcissism and alcoholism

People who think that they may have an addiction or a personality disorder should consult a doctor or mental health professional for advice and treatment. People with narcissistic personality disorders may wish to control their sexual partner’s behavior for their own satisfaction, and they may have an inflated sense of sexual entitlement. This study concluded that people with grandiose narcissism are more able to evaluate and recognize their problems with alcohol than people with vulnerable narcissism. People in the latter group are less able to recognize that they have a problem and are, therefore, less likely to be ready to change their behaviors.

Alcohol Abuse and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

It can be hard to discern even from a clinical perspective if alcoholism is separate from narcissism. The takeaway is that the individual needs treatment to make significant changes in their life. Depending on the severity of the problem, residential or inpatient treatment may be necessary. Once detox is completed and sobriety has begun, outpatient therapy can be beneficial. It is also recommended to utilize family or couples counseling to heal relationships as well.

Do you know someone who struggles with alcoholism and also displays patterns of narcissism? These two conditions can be related, and it’s essential to understand their similarities and differences. Narcissists reveal destructive behavior because of a lack of empathy and genuine emotions. Alcoholics will claim that they can stop drinking whenever they want. They’ll also deny when they had a drink or that their drinking has negative consequences.

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When a person has two conditions, the best option is often to treat the two conditions simultaneously. Both narcissists and alcoholics will use anybody they can to get their fix. If the person does not want to enter treatment or change, there may not be hope for healing. The best thing to do at that point is to seek out individual therapy for yourself and work on setting firmer boundaries.

  • Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Based on existing research, we can’t say that alcoholism causes a personality disorder like narcissism.
  • A narcissistic alcoholic is someone who either possesses narcissistic traits due to their alcoholism or is someone who has NPD and drinks alcohol because of their disorder.
  • Consider the similarities with the list we shared earlier on abusive personality disorder signs.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition defined as persistent symptoms of narcissism that significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Lacking empathy and feeling superior, they give themselves full permission to do whatever the want despite the rules or costs to others. Doing so would risk encountering the deep shame and emptiness they carry. Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol. We do not receive any compensation or commission for referrals to other treatment facilities.

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