Narcissism and Alcoholism: Is There a Link?

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Narcissism and Alcoholism: Is There a Link?

Not everyone with a narcissistic personality engages in abusive behaviors. And not all abusive behaviors, covert or not, are a result of narcissistic traits. But some people with covert narcissism do engage in actions that can be considered manipulative and toxic. While alcohol use disorder and narcissism occur together relatively often, this doesn’t necessarily mean that NPD causes alcohol problems. It is, however, possible that individuals who experience distress or dysfunction as a result of NPD may turn to alcohol consumption as a coping mechanism, placing them at higher risk of developing AUD. When two conditions like narcissism and alcoholism occur together, sometimes people believe that one disorder causes the other, but co-occurring disorders are more complex than that.

The two conditions may co-occur, but it is often difficult to determine which disorder occurred first. On the other hand, the term “alcoholic” describes someone who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is the clinical term for an alcohol addiction. When someone has an AUD, they will give up other activities in favor of alcohol use and spend such a significant amount of time consuming alcohol and recovering from its effects, that relationships and work duties fall by the wayside [3]. Another study from 2019 found a link between drinking and the narcissistic traits of devaluing and entitlement-rage. Threatened egotism was listed as a factor that motivated increased alcohol use.

What Is A Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

However, when protecting yourself from covert narcissistic abuse, you may want to skip direct confrontation. Try to calmly explain how you feel but if the other person isn’t receptive, you may want to end the conversation and consider how you want to proceed with the relationship. Narcissistic personality disorder is just one of several personality disorders that can be dually diagnosed with alcoholism. However, there is some evidence that having narcissistic personality disorder can make you more vulnerable to alcohol abuse.

  • Aggressive behavior and pathological narcissism were linked to alcohol overuse in a 2017 study of Canadian men.
  • Recognizing covert personality traits requires looking beyond obvious appearances, past common assumptions and expectations.
  • Crossing or ignoring the boundaries you’ve set, or acting as if they know better, can be a sign of covert narcissistic abuse.

A trained mental health professional is usually able to diagnose personality disorders using standardized psychiatric interview methods. A 2019 study found a link between vulnerable narcissism, shame, and an increased likelihood of problem drinking and gambling. covert narcissism and alcoholism Vulnerable narcissism features traits like low self-esteem, helplessness, and rejection sensitivity. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is one of the Cluster B personality disorders, which are characterized by unpredictable and emotional behavior.

AUD diagnosis

One thing that has intrigued researchers about narcissists is that they are ultimately playing a losing game, and prone to self-defeating behaviors. They may internalize their anger at perceived mistreatment from another, waiting for the right opportunity to exact revenge. This can be done subtly, for example sabotaging a colleague’s work or a friend’s relationship. Whilst the overt narcissist can be identified more clearly due to their behavior, the covert narcissist displays the same traits albeit in a more muted way.

covert narcissism and alcoholism

Research has shown that there is an overlap between alcohol use disorder and personality disorders, including NPD. One study found that among individuals who reported alcohol use, 9.1% were diagnosed with NPD at some point during their lives [1]. I turned to Craig Malkin, a therapist and author of Rethinking Narcissism (and a Psychology Today blogger), for answers to the question of how to deal with someone who has addiction and narcissism issues. “When someone has narcissistic personality disorder and a substance abuse problem,” he said, “it’s not enough for them to beat their drug addiction; they also have to beat their addiction to feeling special.” Calling someone a covert narcissist doesn’t — or at least shouldn’t — imply that they’re any sneakier or more manipulative than the average narcissist. It also doesn’t have anything to do with hiding abusive behaviors — another widespread myth.

Grandiose Narcissism and Alcohol Outcomes

Someone who has a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) experiences grandiose, arrogant behavior patterns that are coupled with a lack of empathy and need to be admired. These behaviors are at the expense of other people, including loved ones. Covert narcissists may often engage in gaslighting because it’s a subtle way of manipulating others without making it too obvious.

  • Covert narcissists may often engage in gaslighting because it’s a subtle way of manipulating others without making it too obvious.
  • These individuals have a lack of concern for the well-being of others or how others may be affected by their actions.
  • Like the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood.
  • Internal consistency in the current study was alpha of .84 for the grandiose narcissism subscale and .79 for the vulnerable narcissism subscale.
  • While alcohol use disorder and narcissism occur together relatively often, this doesn’t necessarily mean that NPD causes alcohol problems.
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James Clyde

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