Alcoholism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a complex personality disorder (1) that often co-occurs with other affective, behavioral, or personal disorders. In many cases, individuals who are afflicted with NPD simultaneously suffer from substance use issues. At Guardian Recovery we have developed an integrated recovery program that focuses on effectively treating addiction and all co-occurring issues, allowing those with dual diagnosis disorders to heal on a physical, mental, and emotional basis. In order for addiction to be successfully treated, all underlying mental health concerns must be adequately addressed. Our experienced and compassionate team of therapeutic professionals work with each client on an individual basis, developing a personalized treatment plan that lends itself to the maintenance of long-term sobriety. Contact us today to learn more.

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Narcissism and Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a progressive and chronic medical condition that concerns the compulsive use of alcohol despite negative consequences. Individuals who suffer from a diagnosable alcohol use disorder typically face a range of internal and external ramifications, including (but certainly not limited to), lowered self-esteem, depression, anxiety, a lack of self-worth, compromised interpersonal relationships, job loss, and financial instability. 

Narcissism is a mental health condition that concerns a heightened, disproportionate sense of self-importance and an inability to accept personal responsibility. Those who suffer from NPD find it difficult to take accountability; they tend to believe their misfortune is a direct result of the inadequacies of others. Many narcissistic individuals manipulate those around them in order to maintain their own appearance and ultimately get what they want. 

Both alcoholism and narcissism can concern several of the same symptoms, including a lack of empathy for others, emotional manipulation, and an inflated ego. It is often found that the alcoholic and the narcissist require admiration and praise from others — often because their sense of self is harshly unstable or entirely non-existent.

How Narcissists and Alcoholics Are Similar

An individual who is in the throes of active alcoholism will often fail to consider how their actions affect their loved ones and others around them. It is not necessarily because they don’t care about others, but because they don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to look outside of themselves. Once a person loses control over their alcohol consumption, they spend the majority of their time figuring out how, when, and where to drink, drinking, and recovering from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. They are driven to continue drinking at all costs, even if that means deeply hurting those around them. Similarly, individuals who struggle with NPD struggle to see things from the perspective of others. They tend to engage in destructive behaviors at the expense of others, and often experience the same sense of denial that goes hand-in-hand with alcoholism. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Alcohol Abuse

When Narcissistic Personality Disorder and alcohol use disorder co-occur, it can be difficult to differentiate the symptoms of one disorder from another. It is imperative that each disorder be treated simultaneously in a designated dual diagnosis treatment center. If a person is treated for NPD and an underlying alcohol use disorder is left unaddressed, there is a good chance that heavy drinking will ultimately render NPD treatment ineffective. The opposite is also true — if a person is treated for alcoholism but is still exhibiting symptoms of NPD, these symptoms will likely eventually lead them back to alcohol use. 

If you believe that someone you love is suffering from NPD and alcoholism, there are several specific warning signs to keep an eye out for. If you would like more information on dual diagnosis treatment options in your area, contact us today. 

Warning signs of NPD and alcoholism include:

  • Manipulation of other people. Individuals with NPD and an alcohol use disorder often manipulate others utilizing deceit, flagrant lies, and emotional appeal in order to get what they want. They might go to great lengths to protect their substance use, even if it means hurting others along the way. 
  • An inability to take personal responsibility. For example, someone who is suffering from NPD and alcohol dependence might lose their job because they continuously show up to work hungover and struggle to meet deadlines. Rather than take responsibility and say, “I lost my job because of my alcohol use,” they might say, “I lost my job because my boss is a real piece of work. I’ve done great things for that company, and my efforts were never recognized! It’s their loss.” 
  • Superficial interpersonal relationships. Someone with an alcohol use disorder will struggle to develop and maintain meaningful relationships, often because they are consumed with alcohol use and because they have repeatedly let down their loved ones. Those with NPD will also struggle to maintain close relationships with others, often because they have a difficult time with the concept of give-and-take. 

Individuals who suffer from alcoholism and narcissism often grapple with feelings of shame and have a propensity towards self-destruction. The good news is that recovery is possible. Contact us today to learn more.

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How To Cope With An Alcoholic Parent With Co-Occurring Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If you have a parent with both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and an alcohol use disorder, you might feel as if you can never do anything right — no matter how hard you try to be the exemplary child, your efforts are never met with praise or gratitude, but rather with anger, frustration, or indifference. If your parent has co-occurring NPD and alcoholism, they might:

  • Expect you to praise them for being a good parent; for fulfilling obligations that seem to be an expected part of the job. 
  • Believe that they are special, and exhibit extreme arrogance in certain situations.
  • Take advantage of you and of other people in your family for their personal gain. 
  • Lack empathy or fail to show up for you when you need them. 
  • Punish you for bringing up concern surrounding their alcohol use. 
  • Manipulate you into lying to protect their drinking. 

The best action to take if you are attempting to cope with a parent with alcoholism and NPD is to reach out for professional help. If your parent fails to see how their actions are affecting others, a professional intervention might prove beneficial. Contact us today to learn more. 

How To Cope With an Alcoholic Spouse With Co-Occurring Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It can be extremely difficult to cohabitate with a spouse who is suffering from a dual diagnosis disorder of any kind. It can be particularly challenging to live with someone who is active in their alcoholism and exhibiting symptoms of NPD. Your spouse might do things that mentally and emotionally hurt you, like staying out all night, lying about where they have been, and expecting nothing but love and admiration regardless of their actions. Because those with NPD often struggle to see their part in things, you might feel like you are fighting a losing battle. Remember that professional help is often necessary, and there are steps you can take to ensure your own mental and emotional needs are being met independently of your partner. 

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If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and has been simultaneously struggling with alcohol misuse or dependence, Guardian Recovery Center is available to help. Our dual diagnosis program caters to those with substance use issues and underlying mental illness. We have developed a comprehensive program that combines therapeutic intervention with the traditional 12 Step model of recovery and evidence-based holistic treatment methods. We offer numerous levels of care including medically monitored detox, residential inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. Our admissions process is simple, straightforward, and can easily be completed over the phone within minutes. All you have to do is make the decision to reach out for help, and we will be there to guide you along the way. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin your personal recovery journey. 


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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