An alcoholic can exhibit symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), but usually not enough to be diagnosed. In addition, a person with NPD is not always an alcoholic.
Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, complicated disease that is hallmarked by an unmanageable compulsion to drink alcohol. Regardless of consequences, an alcoholic will find a reason to drink, even if they have to make one up and deny the actual repercussions.
Arguing with someone who is drunk or a narcissist will not help. These individuals will debate, argue, distract, or back you into a corner, due to the way alcohol affects them.
Someone who has a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) experiences grandiose, arrogant behavior patterns that are coupled with a lack of empathy and need to be admired. These behaviors are at the expense of other people, including loved ones.
These behaviors are also seen in people with alcoholism (also known as a severe alcohol use disorder) and drug use or substance use disorders.
What Is A Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
NPD affects almost every part of a person’s life. It is a personality disorder, which is a mental health disorder. Common narcissistic traits of NPD include grandiosity, inflated self-image and self-worth, as well as a lack of empathy.
Individuals with a NPD feel they can only be understood by special people. They take advantage of others, especially to accomplish their own goals. These individuals have a lack of concern for the well-being of others or how others may be affected by their actions.
Many of the symptoms of NPD are thought to be the result of a sensitive or vulnerable ego. While they may not show it outwardly, criticism is especially unbearable for a narcissist. They may dwell on it, or be haunted by it, and end up enraged or retaliating.
When mental health professionals are exploring a potential Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnosis, they are explicitly forewarned to make sure that a person is not struggling with an addiction or substance abuse, since the symptoms are very similar.
Alcoholism And Narcissism
When someone is deep in an alcohol addiction, they become very self-absorbed. Everything becomes about alcohol, every day. To friends, family, and even coworkers, it can seem as though the alcoholic will sacrifice everything to be able to drink.
Drinking when consequences are obviously damaging or will cause major losses, are both signs of severe alcohol abuse. In some cases, the person can fail to recognize how drinking is negatively affecting their life, and accuse others of being extreme.
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A person struggling with alcoholism can appear to dismiss friends and family to spend time with others that support their need to drink excessively. To family, it can appear that their loved one is putting these newfound friends ahead of them (similar to what a narcissist would do).
However, it is more likely that the alcoholic is trying to surround themselves with others that support these extreme drinking habits.
Alcohol addiction mimics some symptoms of NPD.
The following is a list of narcissistic behaviors that are often shown by alcoholics:
- lack of responsibility
- superficial relationships
- lack of empathy
- self-esteem problems
- no interest in self-reflection
- extreme behavior changes
Signs Of Alcoholism
When a person is struggling with alcohol addiction, there are several symptoms that reveal that their alcohol consumption has become a problem, such as:
- cravings or compulsions for alcohol
- withdrawal symptoms without alcohol
- being unable to stop drinking
- tolerance (needing more alcohol to get the same effects)
Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms would benefit from considering a treatment program for alcohol abuse.
Additional Facts About Alcoholism
It was estimated as recently as 2017, that approximately one in every eight adults in the United States meets the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
For many of these individuals, alcohol leads to significant disruptions in their everyday life. And in some cases, alcoholism can be fatal.
Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism And NPD
There are cases of individuals who are addicted narcissists. These individuals struggle with both addiction and NPD.
People who display addictive behaviors in addition to narcissistic traits may require a substance abuse treatment program that is equipped to treat co-occurring disorders.
Treating both disorders while at a recovery treatment center can help a person remain sober once they’ve completed the program.
Alcoholism Treatment Options
When seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, it is important to locate a treatment program that offers a medically supervised detox program to help manage the dangerous withdrawal symptoms of alcohol.
Once a person has flushed the alcohol out of their system, continuing on to a well-rounded, thorough substance abuse program that includes mental health services, as well as addiction counseling, have historically been successful. Following up with an outpatient or 12-step program can be incredibly helpful as well.
Whether a person is a covert narcissist, alcoholic with narcissistic personality traits, or a person with a dual diagnosis, finding a treatment program that meets their needs is very important.
Beginning down the road to recovery from alcohol or drug addiction may feel overwhelming, but that is where we can offer some assistance. Reach out to one of our addiction specialists for alcohol treatment help today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly—Narcissism: A Barrier to Personal Acceptance of the Spiritual Aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous
- National Institutes of Health—Appendix B: DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism—National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III)
- Personality and Individual Differences—Narcissism and devaluing others: An exploration of impaired control over drinking as a mediating mechanism of alcohol-related problems