Narcissism and Addiction: A Dangerous Combination

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 6, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Research has shown a strong correlation between narcissism and addiction.

Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration.

Conversely, addiction is a compulsive behavior that leads to negative consequences, such as physical and psychological harm, social isolation, and financial problems.

Studies have found that individuals with narcissistic traits are more likely to engage in substance abuse and other addictive behaviors. This may be due to their need for constant stimulation and validation and their tendency to engage in risky behaviors.

Narcissistic individuals may also use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with feelings of boredom, emptiness, or low self-esteem.

Understanding the connection between narcissism and addiction is crucial for developing effective treatment strategies.

In the following article, we analyze this connection in more detail and discuss the implications for treatment.

What is Narcissism?

People with narcissistic tendencies often believe that they are better than others and deserve special treatment. They may also have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and abilities.

There are two types of narcissism: grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism.

Grandiose narcissism is marked by an inflated sense of self-worth and a desire for admiration and attention.

Conversely, vulnerability narcissism is characterized by a need for validation and a fear of rejection.

Narcissism is often associated with addiction because people with narcissistic tendencies may use substances or behaviors to cope with feelings of insecurity or to maintain their sense of superiority.

It’s important to understand that narcissism is a personality trait, not a mental illness. While narcissistic traits can cause problems in relationships and other areas of life, they do not necessarily indicate a larger mental health issue.

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, you may be wondering if there is a link between narcissism and addictive behavior. According to recent research, there may be a connection between the two.

Those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) often feel overconfident about their self-worth and may believe that they are entitled to special treatment. They may also have difficulty regulating their emotions and become angry or defensive when criticized or rejected.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that people with NPD were more likely to have a substance use disorder than people without the disorder.

In a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, people with NPD were likelier to have a gambling addiction than those without the disorder.

So why might there be a link between narcissism and addiction?

One theory is that people with NPD may become addicted to substances as a way to cope with feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem. They may also use these behaviors as a way to feel special or important.

Factors Contributing to Narcissism and Addiction

In this section, we will explore some of the factors that can contribute to the development of narcissism and addiction.


Low self-esteem is often linked to narcissism and addiction. Individuals with low self-esteem may feel a constant need for validation and attention, which can trigger drug or alcohol abuse.

On the other hand, individuals with high self-esteem may also be at risk of addiction, as they may feel invincible and believe they can handle any substance without consequences.


Narcissistic individuals often have a sense entitlement, resulting in indifference for others and an inability to accept responsibility for their actions. This entitlement can also lead to substance abuse, as the individual may feel that they deserve to indulge in drugs or alcohol.


Feelings of shame and inadequacy can also contribute to the development of narcissism and addiction. It is possible for individuals to use drugs or alcohol to cope with these feelings, or they may use these substances to bolster their sense of self-worth.

Lack of Empathy

Narcissistic individuals often lack empathy for others, which impairs their ability to consider the consequences of their actions. This lack of empathy can also contribute to substance abuse, as the individual may not consider the impact of their drug or alcohol use on those around them.

Genetic Factors

Research has shown that there may be a genetic predisposition to both narcissism and addiction. Individuals with a family history of either condition may be at a higher risk of developing these conditions themselves.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as childhood experiences and social influences, can also contribute to the development of narcissism and addiction. Trauma, neglect, and abuse during childhood contribute to a distorted sense of self and a need for validation. Social influences, such as peer pressure or exposure to drug culture, can also contribute to the development of addiction.

Rehab and Recovery Options

Recovery from narcissism and addiction can be challenging, but it is possible with the right support and treatment. If you are struggling with narcissism and addiction, seeking professional help to address both issues is essential.

A dual-diagnosis treatment program can provide you with the comprehensive care you need to overcome both conditions. This type of program integrates treatment for both addiction and mental health disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder.

Detox is usually the first step in addiction recovery. During detox, you will be medically supervised as your body rids itself of drugs or alcohol.

This process can be uncomfortable and even dangerous without medical supervision, which is why it is important to seek professional help.

After detox, you can begin a rehab program that is tailored to your specific needs. 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, can be effective for some people.

However, other individuals may benefit from alternative approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or holistic therapies like yoga and meditation.

Recovery from narcissism can be a lifelong process. It may involve therapy, support groups, and other forms of ongoing treatment.

Therapy Options

If you are struggling with addiction and narcissism, therapy can be essential to your recovery journey.

One of the most important roles of therapy in recovery is providing support.

Narcissistic abuse and addiction can be isolating experiences, and having a therapist who understands what you are going through can be incredibly validating.

Your therapist can help you feel heard and understood and provide a safe space for you to explore your feelings and experiences.

In addition to support, therapy can also help you develop coping mechanisms and stressors. Your therapist can work with you to identify effective ways to cope with difficult emotions, such as mindfulness practices, exercise, or creative outlets.

Validation is also an important aspect of therapy in recovery. Many people with narcissistic tendencies struggle with low self-esteem and may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of validation.

A therapist can help you develop a stronger sense of self-worth and find validation from within rather than seeking it from external sources.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I divorce a narcissist who is also a drug addict?

Divorcing a narcissist who is also a drug addict can be challenging, but it’s important to prioritize your safety and well-being. Consider seeking the help of a therapist or lawyer with experience working with narcissistic individuals. It’s also important to document any abuse or drug use incidents to strengthen your court case.

Do narcissists become addicted to people?

While narcissists may become emotionally dependent on others, they don’t become addicted to people in the same way that they become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Narcissists may use others to boost their ego and sense of self-worth, but they ultimately view themselves as superior to others and are unlikely to develop a true addiction to another person.

What is the relationship between narcissism and drug use?

Narcissism and drug use are strongly linked, with many narcissistic individuals using drugs to enhance their sense of power and control over others. People with a narcissistic personality may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors like drug use due to their sense of invincibility and lack of concern for the consequences of their actions.

Are narcissists more likely to develop addictions?

Research suggests that narcissistic individuals may be more likely to develop addictions than those who don’t have narcissistic traits. This may be due to a combination of genetic factors, environmental influences, and the use of drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with feelings of inadequacy or to enhance their sense of power and control over others.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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