Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health disorder in which those affected exhibit an overly-inflated ego, increased sense of self-importance, need for attention, and often, an apparent lack of empathy for others. NPD also commonly co-exists with other psycho-emotional problems, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or a drug or alcohol use disorder.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or have one in your family, you already know how challenging it can be to deal with him or her. If he or she is also an alcoholic or drug abuser, this situation is probably even worse. Both narcissists and alcoholics are notorious for eschewing help from others who think they “know better”.
Narcissists are 100% convinced they are 100% right 100% of the time and feel a deep need to protect this contention at any cost. Narcissists often tend to be impulsive, which can quickly lead to poor decision-making. This characteristic is also generally true of alcoholics. In fact, this is a point that perhaps need not even be mentioned because it’s evident that if active alcoholics could make sound, healthy decisions, they would just stop drinking entirely and forever.
Comparing a Narcissist and Alcoholic
There are several behaviors that the narcissist and alcohol have in common. Both disorders revolve around denying the truth about oneself and the problems incurred as a result of one’s actions. Almost every person who develops an alcohol use disorder will be in denial about this and other related issues until they are darn good and ready to admit the truth. As a narcissistic trait, denial is a means that those affected often use to avoid facing the fact that their self-image may not be accurate and is, in fact, a product entirely of their own creation and has nothing to do with the perceptions of others.
Narcissists and alcoholics both struggle to take responsibility for their adverse actions and behaviors. Moreover, this would mean moving away from denial and not admitting the truth AND becoming fully responsible for them. For alcoholics, this is a direct threat to one’s ability to drink because if they fully acknowledge their problematic drinking behavior, it can no longer be justified.
Narcissists and alcoholics have a strong sense of entitlement. Entitlement is a fundamental narcissistic trait, and many alcoholics believe they are entitled to drink under any condition they deem fit. Entitlement is an effective way to justify drinking. It can also be associated with the desire to numb or deny feelings, however, which can further fuel a person’s unwillingness to take responsibility or move out of denial.
People with either disorder will act in spite of others. Narcissists are very self-centered, and alcoholics are notoriously selfish. Both engage in actions that have the potential to hurt other people, often being fully aware that these actions are being committed at the expense of those they claim to love—or sometimes, just random strangers.
Narcissists and alcoholics are both very manipulative. Both will use manipulation tactics to get what they want, be it money, alcohol, other items, etc. Alcoholics may not be as freewheeling with this manipulation as narcissists are because their approach is primary rooted in the procurement of alcohol versus general desires, but make no mistake, it is there nonetheless.
Signs of a Narcissist
If you suspect a person in your life is a narcissist, there are some common signs for which to look. However, as noted, many traits between narcissism and alcoholism overlap. That is, it’s crucial to know if a person has both disorders or if it is one increasing the severity of the other’s symptoms.
The average narcissist will exhibit the following:
- A highly inflated sense of self and self-purpose
- Living in a false reality that supports an inflated sense of self/ego
- A need to have constant praise, attention, and recognition
- An incredibly robust sense of entitlement
- A need to demean or belittle others for not living up to their standards
- A need to exploit and manipulate others for their time, efforts, and energy for their own objectives
- A lack of empathy for others
Signs of an Alcoholic
Symptoms of an alcohol use disorder include a strong need or urge to consume alcohol. Those with this condition struggle to control their drinking, continue to drink despite the incurrence of problems, and have withdrawal symptoms when they rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
Common personality traits alcoholics may exhibit may including aggression, agitation, anxiety, compulsive behavior, depression, discontent, guilt/shame, and impulsivity.
Physical manifestations are many and varied but commonly include dizziness, shakiness, poor motor control, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, and sweating.
Getting Treatment for Narcissism and Alcoholism
The good news is that both NPD and alcoholism are very treatable. Narcissists tend to refuse help (as do people with addictions, at least initially) because they are entirely convinced that they are in the right and entitled to do what they want. For this reason, to effectively help your loved one, you may need to consult an interventionist who may have a better chance of convincing them to get treatment.
Just Believe Recovery center offers comprehensive treatment programs that address substance abuse conditions as well as mental health issues and personality disorders, including narcissism. Our approach features various services beneficial for the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, 12-step program support, counseling, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and much more.