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Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Related to Addiction?

According to StatPearls authors, Paroma Mitra and Dimy Fluyau, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is “a complex personality disorder often detected with other affective and personality disorders.” 

It was first recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1980, as a newly emerging illness in the personality disorders and mood disorders class.

In other words, narcissistic personality disorder is sometimes hard to find on its own, but when there is a co-occurring disorder present, it may signify narcissistic personality disorder. 

Addiction in particular is a separate disorder from a narcissistic personality disorder. Though they have similar symptoms, the two are not interrelated. One may find they have NPD as they seek treatment for their addiction, or vice-versa. 

There are a number of diagnostic and clinical challenges involved in treating narcissistic personality disorder and addiction together. However, RECO Intensive’s team of mental health professionals works hard to address mental health conditions.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a personality disorder that leads the person to believe that they and they alone are the only person that matters in a given situation. 

The word “narcissist” is taken from the Greek legend of Narcissus, who fell so in love with his reflection that he doomed himself. Some common symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of NPD are:

  • Aggression. 
  • Reduced tolerance to distress.
  • Perverse grandiose effect, meaning they think they are of high self importance when they are not. They may exaggerate achievements or expect superior recognition without actually having any achievements.
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, etc.
  • Believes they are special and can only be understood by other special people or people of importance. 
  • Requires excessive admiration from others.
  • Has a strong sense of entitlement, often with unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment or compliance with their expectation.
  • Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own goals.
  • Lacks empathy completely and tends to be unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of them. 
  • Shows arrogance and haughty behaviors towards others. 
  • Lack of awareness of suffering from other mental health conditions. 
  • Issues functioning in interpersonal relationships and intimate relationships due to an exaggerated sense of self esteem, pathological narcissism/narcissistic traits, or lack of realistic expectations.

Diagnosis of NPD

With narcissistic personality disorder, people can become manipulative about how they show narcissistic traits and other personality traits, making it hard to diagnose. 

In order to get a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, a person’s behaviors and expectations will be thoroughly examined by a doctor for long periods of time. Some people who display these traits do not actually have NPD. 

Instead, they have had narcissistic tendencies modeled for them since early childhood. Some people genuinely do not know any better or have never been exposed to a situation where they were forced to have a viewpoint other than their own. 

Though there are many who have narcissistic tendencies, this does not mean they have acute NPD. Narcissistic personality disorder can be diagnosed through a Narcissistic Personality Inventory, International Personality Disorder Examination and other American Psychiatric Association tests. 

Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder can vary for most people, often depending on if other mental disorders are present, such as borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and other mood disorders. 

According to Mitra and Fluyau, there is no “standard” pharmacological or psychological treatment for NPD. Narcissistic personality disorder specialists will often employ therapy to treat NPD, specifically these types:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Focuses on conscious monitoring of thoughts/actions, why one is having those thoughts, and what a better action should be. 

Schema-Focused Therapy: This is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on emotional senses to work through various facets of personality pathology and personality functioning. 

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Focuses on defenses present during therapy. This can help work through self centeredness in narcissistic patients. 

Transference-Focused Therapy: This is a psychoanalytic therapy that focuses on emotions toward a therapist, essentially venting them out as they develop coping strategies. 

It may feel strange or threatening to a person when finding out they have narcissistic personality disorder. Many may choose to not get tested or seek a doctor’s diagnosis. It is okay to be diagnosed with NPD. There is no shame in learning more about yourself and bettering your interactions with others. 

NPD and Addiction

As part of the stigma around addiction, many accuse those who have struggled with substance use to be narcissistic. There may be some truth to that, and people suffering from addiction may display narcissistic tendencies. This is often due to the brain changes that happen when a person is high or drunk. 

When a person is suffering from addiction, most of their thoughts and actions are focused on doing whatever they can to get more of their substance of choice. In this mindset, stealing money from others, misleading them, or manipulating others in the name of getting a substance, all seem necessary to these individuals. 

The brain is completely rewired to need that substance, meaning that, in some cases, they will do anything they can. “Anything they can” may mean using strategies that those with narcissistic personality disorder would also employ to meet their ends. 

Again, narcissistic personality disorder and addiction are separate disorders. Just because you have one does not mean you have the other. If you have tendencies of both, it is not necessarily because they correlate. Due to the brain’s neural pathways with addiction and NPD, you may display symptoms similar to both. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment with RECO Intensive

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a behavioral disorder that leads a person to act very entitled, think they are special or deserving of special treatment, and behave in a manipulative manner toward others. 

Having NPD is not a bad thing, though there is a stigma attached, much like an addiction. There is no shame in having NPD, but it is important that you seek a doctor or a therapist that can help you to change your behaviors. 

If you’re a person who displays co-occurring disorders of NPD and addiction, give us a call. At RECO Intensive, we understand the stigma and shame of addiction and NPD. 

Allow our professional staff to create a treatment plan specifically catered to you. There is no shame in seeking help, and you may find that the coping strategies can help you with both disorders. If you’re only seeking help for one or the other, that’s okay too. 

To treat narcissistic personality disorder or other personality disorders, call RECO Intensive at (561) 464-6533. 


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