The Effects of Alcoholism on Narcissism

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 5, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

People with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism, can exhibit self-absorption and a desire for admiration, similar to those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). However, there are distinctions between the two that are crucial to recognize.

Both alcoholics and narcissists tend to view others as either enablers or potential threats. Alcoholics may see others as people who can help them get attention or maintain their addiction, while narcissists may view others as people who can either boost or damage their self-esteem.

While these similarities exist, it’s important to note that alcoholism and narcissism are different conditions with unique characteristics.

Determining the cause of a loved one’s behavior can be challenging. Is it due to alcoholism or narcissism?

Knowing the signs and symptoms of each condition can help you identify which one is at play.

What is an Alcoholic Narcissist?

When it comes to understanding narcissism and alcoholism, it’s essential to recognize that while they are two separate conditions, they can often be intertwined.

A narcissistic personality is characterized by grandiosity, self-absorption, and a lack of empathy. Meanwhile, alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol that adversely affects a person’s physical and mental health.

While not all alcoholics are narcissistic, and not all narcissists are alcoholics, there are some similarities between the two conditions.

For example, both narcissists and alcoholics may exhibit manipulative, exploitative, and controlling behaviors. They may also struggle with feelings of entitlement and have difficulty taking responsibility for their actions.

It’s worth noting that not all narcissists exhibit the same behaviors. Some may have high self-esteem and a healthy sense of self-worth, while others may exhibit extreme narcissism and a lack of empathy for others. Additionally, there are different types of narcissism, including vulnerable narcissism and grandiose narcissism.

When it comes to diagnosing narcissism and alcoholism, mental health professionals may use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a guide. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a recognized mental health condition, while alcoholism is classified as a substance use disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with narcissism or alcoholism, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Treatment may involve therapy, medication, and support groups, among other options.

Signs of an Alcoholic Narcissist

Here are some common characteristics of an alcoholic narcissist:

  • Lack of Empathy: Alcoholic narcissists often struggle to understand or care about the feelings of others. They may prioritize their own desires and needs over those of others, leading to a lack of empathy.
  • Entitlement: Alcoholic narcissists may have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they deserve special treatment or privileges.
  • Criticism and Blame: Alcoholic narcissists may be quick to criticize others and struggle to take responsibility for their actions. They may also blame others for their problems or mistakes.
  • Manipulative Behavior: Alcoholic narcissists may manipulate others to get what they want, such as using charm or flattery to gain favor or using guilt to get others to do what they want.
  • Low Tolerance for Criticism: Alcoholic narcissists may become defensive or angry when criticized, as they may see any criticism as a personal attack.
  • Avoidant Behavior: Alcoholic narcissists may avoid dealing with their problems or emotions, leading to a lack of self-reflection and self-awareness.
  • Childhood Trauma: Alcoholic narcissists may have experienced childhood trauma, such as neglect or abuse, which can contribute to their narcissistic tendencies.
  • Arrogance: Alcoholic narcissists may have an inflated sense of self-importance and may believe that they are better than others.
  • Exploitative Behavior: Alcoholic narcissists may exploit others for their own gain, such as using others for money or resources.

Effect on Relationships

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic narcissist can be challenging and emotionally draining. Their self-absorbed behavior can make it difficult for them to truly connect with others, leading to superficial relationships that lack depth and meaning.

One of the most significant impacts of being in a relationship with an alcoholic narcissist is the constant need for attention. They may always demand your attention, leaving little room for you to focus on your needs and desires. As a result, you may feel resentful and frustrated as you struggle to maintain healthy boundaries in the relationship.

Another common issue in relationships with alcoholic narcissists is the shame and denial that often accompanies their behavior.

They may refuse to acknowledge the impact of their actions on others, instead choosing to blame others for their problems. This can make it difficult to have honest and open communication, as they may become defensive or aggressive when confronted with their behavior.

Coping with an alcoholic narcissist can be challenging, and setting clear boundaries to protect yourself is important. This may mean limiting your exposure to their behavior or seeking support from friends and family.

How Narcissists Use Enablers

Enablers play a significant role in the life of a narcissist. They are the people who support and encourage the narcissist’s behavior, even if it is harmful to themselves or others.

Enablers are often family members, friends, or partners who feel responsible for the narcissist’s well-being and believe that they must do whatever it takes to make the narcissist happy.

Enablers may blame themselves for the narcissist’s behavior and feel guilty if they do not meet the narcissist’s demands.

They may also defend the narcissist’s actions and make excuses for them, even if they are hurtful or abusive. This behavior is a defense mechanism that allows enablers to avoid confronting the reality of the situation and the narcissist’s behavior.

Enablers may provide the narcissist with financial support, emotional validation, and other resources to maintain their lifestyle. They may also shield the narcissist from the consequences of their actions, such as legal or financial problems. This behavior reinforces the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and reinforces their belief that they are above the rules.

If you are an enabler in a narcissist’s life, it is important to recognize your role in the dynamic and take steps to change it. This may involve setting boundaries with the narcissist, seeking support from a therapist or support group, and learning to prioritize your own needs and well-being.

Remember that you are not responsible for the narcissist’s behavior and that fixing them is not your job.

Recovering from alcoholism and narcissism can be a long and challenging journey. However, overcoming these issues with the right support and resources is possible. Here are some steps you can take to begin your road to recovery:

Seek Professional Help

One of the first steps to recovery is seeking professional help. This may include addiction treatment, therapy, or medication. A mental health professional can help you diagnose and treat any underlying mental health disorders that may be contributing to your alcoholism and narcissism.

Join a Support Group

Groups that provide support, such as 12-step programs, are an important resource for those in recovery. The purpose of these groups is to provide a safe and supportive environment where you can share your struggles and receive encouragement and guidance from others.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Recovery requires taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging the harm you may have caused others. Taking responsibility for your actions can be an uncomfortable and difficult process, but it is crucial to making amends and moving forward.

Develop Coping Strategies

The development of healthy coping strategies is crucial to recovery. This may include practicing mindfulness, engaging in physical activity, or finding creative outlets for stress relief.

Avoid Triggers and Relapse

Relapse prevention is crucial for maintaining sobriety and healthy behaviors. This may involve avoiding certain people or situations, developing a support network, and creating a plan for managing cravings and urges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common traits of individuals with both narcissism and alcohol addiction?

Some common traits of individuals with both narcissism and alcohol addiction include a sense of entitlement, grandiosity, impulsivity, and a lack of empathy. As a result, these characteristics can make it difficult for them to maintain healthy relationships and engage in self-destructive behavior.

Is it common for narcissistic individuals to struggle with substance abuse?

Yes, it is common for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder to struggle with substance abuse. This is because they may use drugs or alcohol to cope with feelings of inadequacy or enhance their sense of superiority.

What are the potential consequences of being in a relationship with a narcissistic alcoholic?

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic alcoholic can be challenging and emotionally draining. The needs and desires of narcissistic individuals may be prioritized over those of their partner, leading to neglect and resentment. Additionally, alcohol addiction can lead to unpredictable behavior and emotional instability.

How can someone support a loved one who is struggling with both narcissism and alcoholism?

Supporting a loved one struggling with narcissism and alcoholism can be difficult, but it is important to approach the situation with compassion and understanding. Supporting them with emotional support and encouraging them to seek professional help can be effective ways to help them overcome their addiction and manage their narcissistic tendencies.

What are some effective treatment options for individuals with co-occurring narcissism and alcohol addiction?

Treatment for co-occurring narcissism and alcohol addiction typically involves a combination of therapy and medication. The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors, while medication can alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms.

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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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