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The Connection between Narcissism and Addiction

Feb 15, 2022

If you’ve met a narcissist, you might describe them as having an inflated sense of self-importance. They may not be able to handle criticism. Also, they may regularly disregard the feelings of others. What you may not have thought of yet is how these qualities connect to the substance use issues that the same person is experiencing. Today, let’s talk about what bridges a narcissistic personality and addiction.

A person in a position of power with narcissistic qualities may perpetuate a substance use disorder for years. The narcissist is quick to blame others for problems and unwilling to accept criticism. They lack empathy for others in similar circumstances. The end result of this self and world perspective could be masking or denying a drug or alcohol problem, questioning the value of treatment, and mistakenly thinking they can conquer addiction on their own.

Narcissism and Addiction: Five Reasons It’s a Struggle to Get Help

1. A narcissist thinks boosting their self-esteem is the job of others.

A narcissist in a position of power may demand attention, even when it’s not necessary. They’re seeking admiration without providing any merit for it. It can create a false sense of self to have people around them at work or at home automatically giving them this attention without it being earned.

When the narcissist feels disrespected or unappreciated, they may look to drugs or alcohol to soothe their anger. Occasional substance use can grow more frequent as their self-absorbed ways alienate people close to them. Eventually, they may begin seeing the need to escape into substance use binges to counteract the negative feelings they have in their professional and personal life.

2. A narcissist finds reasons to blame others instead of taking responsibility.

A good leader leads by example and takes responsibility when things go wrong. A leader with narcissistic qualities will take responsibility only when success is achieved. When challenges arise or failure comes, they will look for a scapegoat to blame.

A narcissist with a drinking problem can spend years in denial about it. They may point to the stress of running a company or a major life change as the reason they need to drink. They may be unwilling to consider how their choice to handle daily stress with a drink is what led to an alcohol use disorder in the first place.

3. A narcissist rejects any outward form of criticism. 

A narcissist can be their own worst critic while considering any criticism from others to be unacceptable. This inability to receive constructive criticism prevents them from actually addressing an issue within their control. It may perpetuate unwelcome behaviors at the workplace and create an environment where authentic communication doesn’t exist.

The narcissist who’s drinking catches the attention of colleagues during or after business hours may feel vengeful towards anyone who points it out directly. A comment about how many drinks the narcissist had or how his drunken behavior impacted others could be perceived as a threat. They may act out in unexpected ways, attempting to punish anyone who questions or critiques their behavior openly or even privately.

4. A narcissist lacks empathy for others who face the same circumstances.

A person in a physical or mental health crisis could look at someone in a similar situation and see the common ground they share. By using empathy, they are aware of what might have led to a substance use disorder in a friend, family member, or colleague. In most cases, they will offer some kind of support.

A narcissist’s insecurity may compel them to place blame on a person with a drinking or drug problem while denying their own substance use is out of control. Their lack of empathy removes any sense of being part of a “community” of people needing help to get sober. Once in treatment, they may isolate themselves, be unwilling to share anything personal about their journey to sobriety, and question or challenge the treatment team.

5. A narcissist indulges in fantastical thinking about their abilities.

Anyone can be a dreamer, but a narcissist will routinely fantasize about how they want others to see them. They want to be the hero in every story. They want to be the only person capable in their life of creating something of value or making significant impacts on the world around them.

A narcissist’s delusional beliefs about themselves may convince them that no one can cure them of a substance use disorder. They may resist treatment options and openly boast how they are able to conquer a disorder that affects millions of other people without the help they truly need. When they do accept starting treatment, they may disregard the need for continuing care that helps so many others sustain their sobriety well beyond a stay in a residential program.

Headwaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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