Narcissism and Alcoholism: Similarities, Differences, Diagnosis

The longer the feelings are unaddressed, the more daunting it can become to look inward and face them. Doing so would risk encountering the deep shame and emptiness they carry. Recovery starts with a single step and continues for a lifetime. Self-centeredness often leads to acting manipulatively toward others. Instead of being honest and willing to accept what may or may not happen, alcoholics will use manipulation to get what they want, like money, alcohol, or something they need. Preliminary analyses were conducted to determine the ranges and distributions of variables.

Is narcissism a trait of alcoholics?

Narcissism and alcoholism are different conditions, but they can occur simultaneously and may share some overlapping symptoms. While both conditions can be challenging, certain approaches can help individuals overcome the potential complications of these disorders.

Everybody can benefit from speaking with a therapist, regardless of whether they fit the criteria for a mental health condition. In fact, some research suggests that alcohol misuse might be more common among people who have narcissistic tendencies. Risk factors for NPD include having difficult relationships with parents or caregivers during a person’s developmental years that may include excessive praise or criticism. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is an addictive disorder where people cannot control or stop their use of alcohol. People with AUD may be unable to reduce or stop drinking despite experiencing the negative effects of alcohol or a desire to quit. You may want to begin with peer support groups for family members of alcoholics (Al-anon) and/or support groups for people in a relationship with a narcissist or narcissist abuse support groups.

Recovery Service for Alcohol Addiction

They might infrequently have bouts of excessive drinking, for example, but find that it doesn’t affect their life and that it’s easy to cut back on alcohol (or to stop drinking entirely). Although alcohol misuse and AUD can cause someone to display narcissist-like behavior, this behavior might change when they’re sober or in recovery. Although people with AUD may relapse or have treatment setbacks, they can recover from the disorder. Learning healthy coping strategies can help them remain sober when they face triggers. With AUD, a person’s behavior may change depending on whether they are sober or not.

  • There is no obligation to enter treatment and you can opt out at any time.
  • Relapse, or a return to drinking, can be extremely challenging for the person with NPD and AUD and those that love them.
  • You may have to distance yourself, and you’ll probably need the support of a professional interventionist if you want them to seek help.

However, it is possible your loved one may have this diagnosis. Through rehab and therapy, they will ultimately receive greater insight into their personality and discover how their actions impact their life and relationships. For context, it’s important to define a narcissist in this situation. A narcissist is someone who ultimately believes that they are “special” or entitled to a higher level of attention and treatment than other people. Some individuals have both narcissistic personality disorder and an active addiction.

The dark side of narcissism

Grandiose narcissism significantly predicted alcohol use, as did male gender and social desirability. Lastly, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and find support in family and friends. Remember that a person with both alcoholic and narcissistic traits may need to get professional help before they can have a healthy relationship with you again. For a person to recover fully, they’ll generally need treatment that addresses both disorders. While narcissism is a personality disorder and alcoholism is an addiction, narcissists and alcoholics share several characteristics. Recognizing these commonalities can help you understand and cope with people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, untreated alcoholism, or both.

This indicates to the individual that you are not willing to accept being treated with disrespect and you will not engage in any degrading conversations. You do not need anyone’s permission to leave an unhealthy or toxic interaction. To leave potentially unsafe or compromising situations, you can say something like, “look at the time, I’m late”. Your phone can also be helpful in pretending to receive a call so you can excuse yourself.

They exploit people and situations

Future research could test some of these alternative explanations. Grandiose narcissism was a positive predictor of alcohol consumption and a positive (i.e., good) evaluation of narcissism and alcoholism alcohol-related problems. Vulnerable narcissism was a positive predictor of alcohol-related problems, problem recognition (i.e., readiness to change), and problem expectancies.

Also, people with AUD might seem to behave similarly to people with narcissistic traits. Relapse is a common experience among people who are recovering from AUD. You can take steps to prevent relapse, such as recognizing your triggers and joining a support group. If you do relapse, try to seek help again — it’s still possible to make a full recovery. If you think you’re misusing alcohol, or if you think you have NPD, reach out to a mental health professional.

How To Cope With an Alcoholic Spouse With Co-Occurring Narcissistic Personality Disorder

We utilize both traditional and holistic therapies and are comprehensive in our approach. Our treatment plans are customized for each individual based on their presenting issues. By developing a comprehensive individualized treatment plan for each of our clients, we are able to create a therapeutic environment that fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual growth and well being. Narcissists who are also alcohol addicts tend to be even more emotionally reactive. They will likely become extremely angry if you bring up their drinking. Helping a narcissist with an addiction is a greater challenge because of their unwillingness to admit any problems with themselves or their behavior.

  • PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that affects people who have witnessed or experienced traumatic events.
  • Alcoholics might cry about the costs of their addiction, but it doesn’t mean anything because they still won’t stop drinking.
  • If they fully acknowledge their drinking problem they know they can no longer justify their drinking.

BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat. Narcissism is a personality trait expressed as selfishness, an extreme sense of entitlement, attention seeking, and a lack of empathy. Historically, Alcoholics Anonymous “recognizes pathological narcissism as a central problem in alcoholism” (Levin, 1987, https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/what-is-the-life-expectancy-of-an-alcoholic/ p. 332; for a clinical sample, see Sawrie, Watson, Sherbak, Greene, & Arredondo, 1997). There is a lot of debate about whether alcoholics are narcissists. Some say that alcoholics are narcissists and others say that they are not. There is no clear answer to this question as there are many different opinions on the subject.


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