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Can Substance Use Cause Narcissism?

Narcissistic personality disorder can affect people who struggle with substance use. Individuals with narcissistic personality traits alongside addiction, walk a tightrope, as they often believe they can handle the effects of drugs or alcohol better than their peers. They can get caught up in the cycle of addiction quicker than they realize – and be resistant to help.  

Let’s learn more about narcissistic personality disorder, why these personality traits are common in individuals with addiction, and how to find help for your loved one. 

What is Narcissism Personality Disorder? 

Narcissism is a personality disorder that shares many traits with addiction. This disorder produces a pattern of behavior that involves a lack of empathy for others and need for constant validation. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may have an inflated sense of self-worth and experience feelings of entitlement. If they don’t receive the validation they’re looking for, these individuals may feel depressed or ashamed. 

The signs and symptoms of NPD include:

  • Unreasonably high sense of self-importance 
  • Needs constant praise and admiration 
  • Lives in a fantasy world 
  • Strong sense of entitlement 
  • Exploits others without guilt or shame
  • Frequently demeans or bullies others
  • Takes advantage of others to get what they want 
  • Insists on having the ‘best’ of everything 
  • Has the inability to recognize the needs of others 

The Relationship Between Narcissism and Addiction 

Research shows that narcissism has a strong link to addiction. Fluctuating self-esteem can lead to drug use, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors. For instance, if a person with NPD has overwhelming feelings of shame, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Using substances leads to more shame, further perpetuating the cycle of substance use. 

Furthermore, people with NPD can often continue their substance use, even if it’s hurting those around them. That’s because they have a difficult time recognizing the needs and feelings of others. Individuals with NPD may also be easily drawn to substances, because they enjoy “the state of superiority” they feel when under the influence. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Options 

Getting a person with NPD into a dual diagnosis treatment center is not easy. They are unlikely to admit their problem, recognize the effects of their behaviors, or feel a need to change. To get through to these individuals, you will need to set and enforce boundaries. 

Work with a therapist or counselor to set healthy boundaries, such as not letting the person live with you or not giving them money. Remember, a person must become uncomfortable before they can change. If your loved one doesn’t have any natural consequences of their substance use and narcissistic behaviors, they won’t seek help. Having clear boundaries allows you to protect yourself. 

If you can get your loved one into treatment, dual diagnosis care is essential, as this will treat narcissism and substance use. Talk therapy can help people with NPD learn to better relate to others, so their relationships become closer and more rewarding. Your loved one can also explore the underlying causes of their behavior, and what drives them to distrust and dislike others. 

Medicines are used to treat NPD and addiction. But medications are not used to treat NPD specifically. They can help treat symptoms of depression or anxiety, as well as alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders. 

Get Support for Narcissism and Substance Use 

Awakenings Treatment Center is a holistic healing center that treats substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. We have experience treating narcissistic personality disorder in individuals with addiction, and we are confident that we can help your loved one.

Contact our admissions department to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment services and how we can support a complete recovery.