Alcohol and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Published On: May 31, 2023

We often refer to a ‘narcissist’ as someone who is obsessed with themselves and prioritises their vanity and well-being over others. However, those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder experience a much more complex array of thoughts and feelings.

Rather than always being overly confident or in love with themselves, individuals with this condition wildly transition from this state to one of complete self-loathing and worthlessness.

More specifically, the symptoms commonly associated with this condition include:

  • In need of continuous admiration and respect
  • Embellish achievements and status
  • Fantasise about success and perfection
  • Scrutinise others unfairly
  • Manipulate others to put them down or appear superior
  • Short temper and susceptible to angry outbursts
  • Difficulties interacting with those who do not see them in their preferred way
  • Poor stress management
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression and intense anxiety
  • Powerful feelings of shame, humiliation, self-hatred, and fear (often associated with Vulnerable Narcissism)

Call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Alcoholism: What it is and How it Connects to Narcissism

alcohol being poured into glasses

When an individual drinks alcohol regularly, they run the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Although several factors will impact their vulnerability, they expose their bodies and minds to becoming dependent on the substance to function.

This is because alcohol is a very addictive substance, and the body is known to shift its chemical structure to accommodate and rely on alcohol when consumption is regular.

The same process happens in the brain, and alcohol becomes an emotional crutch.

In some cases, those who live with Narcissistic Personality Disorder develop unhealthy drinking habits. Of course, many people with alcoholism also live with other mental health conditions, but narcissism has particular connections with alcohol misuse.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

In What Ways Are Narcissists Similar to Alcoholics?

Person looking sad out of window

A condition is always more dangerous when it is difficult to identify. Even more so, it can be of real concern when two conditions are so similar that one cannot easily be distinguished from the other, leaving one to continue causing harm undisturbed.

This is, unfortunately, the case with alcoholism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

These two conditions share many of the same symptoms and impacts on mental health, including [1]:

  • Increased aggression
  • Difficulty empathising with others
  • Overconfidence
  • Poor stress management
  • Emotional instability and unpredictable behaviour
  • Self-centred worldview

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Narcissism, or is it the Other Way Around?

woman drinking 1

Establishing causality is always difficult when it comes to mental health.

It is clear from the research that there are significant occurrence rates between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and substance abuse [2], but as for why this is the case, things are less clear.

1. Why narcissism might cause alcoholism

Due to how narcissism can distort an individual’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them, a case can be made for this being the trigger of alcohol use disorder.

Those who see themselves as superior and incapable of fault are unlikely to perceive the negative aspects of their behaviour. If they drink, they will consider themselves immune to the risks of dependency.

As a result, those who drink regularly will be less likely to identify and react to unhealthy changes in their physical and mental well-being. Their ego will prevent them from acknowledging the concerns of others, leaving them exposed to addiction.

2. Why alcoholism might cause narcissism

Consuming high volumes of alcohol will interrupt the brain’s regular functioning. Thoughts, judgement, reasoning – all will be skewed, and an individual will likely misread what is happening to them the longer they are left to drink.

A common aspect of developing a substance abuse problem is denial [3]. Heavy drinkers will refuse to see that they are at fault, and these misperceptions can become more intense and elaborate as time passes.

Denial can develop into overconfidence, a superiority complex, and contempt for those who suggest that an individual’s drinking has gotten out of hand. Sustained drinking can therefore fuel increasing narcissism.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

How Unchecked Narcissism Can Become a Problem

Teens Drinking

Those who do not receive support for their narcissism are at risk of developing multiple problems in their day-to-day life. While such issues do not primarily affect physical health, they can be equally devastating to long-term well-being.

1. Relationship breakdown

Those who feel superior to those around them are unlikely to offer sufficient care, affection, and interest. As a result, those with consistent narcissistic traits are at risk of ruining their familial, romantic, and professional relationships.

Equally, those who experience intense bouts of worthlessness put a big emotional demand on those around them. Without seeking professional support, this demand can become unsustainable, pushing loved ones away.

2. Financial problems

Misguided perceptions about an individual’s capabilities can also lead them to misinterpret their earning power. They can spend money irresponsibly, believing themselves capable of earning it back or possibly believing that they can live without the money.

Over time, such behaviour can lead to significant debt and financial ruin. Such problems can have an array of effects, potentially leading to family breakdown and homelessness.

3. Career collapse

Confidence is essential for a good career, but arrogance is a sure way to lead to problems in the workplace. Narcissists are not likely to be perturbed by believing themselves superior in a professional environment, and this can lead to several conflicts.

Not only can they irritate and become hostile to other employees, but their complex can often lead them to think that they can do what they want, irrespective of their employer’s instructions or rules. This can easily lead to dismissal.

Why Drinking So Much Alcohol Is Dangerous

woman drinking 2

Alcoholism is one of the most dangerous forms of substance abuse, largely due to its ability to affect both physical and mental health.

1. Long-term health problems

Although it is widely available for purchase, alcohol can have devastating effects on the body. It disrupts usual brain activity – earning it the classification of a depressant – and interrupts the usual chemical and hormonal functioning of the body.

With excessive drinking, such changes to the body can result in serious harm being done. The liver, largely responsible for processing alcohol through the system, can become severely damaged with prolonged exposure.

Other organs can also experience issues and failures – such as the heart and kidneys – and complications can arise within the brain and nervous system, leaving individuals vulnerable to health problems and decreased cognitive functionality in later life.

2. Declining mental and emotional wellbeing

As a depressant, alcohol stops the brain from sending its usual signals and messages. This can seriously affect neurotransmitter production and distribution, impacting an individual’s emotions and thought processes.

If the brain is consistently subjected to this interference, it can struggle to sustain and regulate its activity. As a result, individuals can experience long-term emotional instability, with feelings of anxiety and depression becoming more common.

3. Withdrawal symptoms

Many addictive substances trigger withdrawal symptoms when an individual has become dependent on them and is sober.

Alcohol, however, is known for its particularly dangerous symptoms, and individuals can come to serious harm if their sobriety is mismanaged.

Suddenly being without access to alcohol can put individuals at risk of intense anxiety, insomnia, and shaking, with more serious conditions like Delirium Tremens posing a threat to life for those with more severe dependencies.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Helping those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Because the condition comprises of unhealthy thoughts and perceptions, treatment of narcissism does not require any form of physical intervention or medication prescription. Instead, it is a therapy-based treatment.

Primarily, therapy’s role is to help individuals identify why they exhibit the unhealthy thoughts and impulses that they do and then learn how to correct their behaviour so that they suffer fewer negative consequences.

When it comes to understanding the origins of their narcissism, an individual will be supported in recognising why they feel so superior to others and how such thoughts can be flawed and damaging.

From there, sessions will work to demonstrate how narcissistic traits impact daily life – as well as how they affect other people – and how an individual can better manage and outmanoeuvre their urges.

Fundamentally, the process of treatment aids the acceptance of unhealthy thoughts and feelings, boosts the capacity for sustainably managing them, and offers methods of sustaining self-esteem without swinging too drastically between arrogance and shame.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

How Is Alcoholism Specifically Treated?

Group Therapy

Alcoholism is treated via therapy as well, but there is a fundamental necessity for detox and medication that cannot be overlooked.

Alcohol rehab is a process of both physical and psychological recovery, and both of these aspects must be treated with equal importance.

1. Physical rehab

To begin, alcohol rehab seeks to treat the hold that the substance has developed over the body. Sustained consumption allows alcohol to influence the body’s regular functioning, and with enough time, an individual will struggle to live without drinking alcohol.

To relieve this reliance, rehab employs detox. By slowly reducing alcohol consumption, individuals can wean their bodies without triggering dangerous withdrawal.

Detox must be conducted under the supervision of medical professionals. This is to both pace the process by the body’s ability to cope, as well as to make sure withdrawal is tackled if it does arise. Medications can be prescribed to dampen it.

2. Mental rehab

Once the body has achieved sobriety, alcohol rehab supports individuals in identifying why their condition developed in the first place. In the cases where Narcissistic Personality Disorder plays a factor, this is the stage of treatment where it is addressed.

During therapy, the triggers which fuelled an individual’s initial alcohol consumption are thrown into the spotlight, as well as those which continue to incite unhealthy consumption. Once addressed, these can then be worked through.

In many therapy formats, individuals are supported in developing healthy coping mechanisms for managing their triggers. These are then practised and discussed, equipping them for a healthy future once treatment has ended.

Dual Diagnosis: Tackling Both Problems At The Same Time

A woman sitting on the floor looking sad

To support those living with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and alcohol use disorder, both conditions must be treated simultaneously. This is because they are interconnected with one another and, therefore, cannot be addressed as separate conditions.

In the world of mental health treatment, this is known as dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders must be identified, worked through, and treated about one another, ensuring that an individual is not exposed to one condition’s impacts while the other is being helped.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Is It Possible To Prevent Narcissists From Drinking?

A woman looking nervous

Identifying a problem in waiting can be immensely difficult, but many individuals will still be curious to know whether they can prevent or reduce the risk of becoming victim to the narcissism-alcoholism relationship.

One of the biggest defences an individual can acquire is understanding and recognising the risk factors of both Narcissistic Personality disorder and alcoholism.

Certain people are at higher risk for a variety of reasons, and knowing these can help protect the vulnerable.

1. Upbringing and Childhood

Childhood is a fundamental period for growth and development, and a lot of mental health problems can find their origins in these early years of life.

When it comes to alcoholism, an individual is more at risk if they are exposed to drinking at a young age. Whether consuming it themselves or seeing family and friends drinking as though it is normal, these factors increase their risk of consuming it too much.

A parent’s treatment of their child can also impact their likelihood of becoming a narcissist. Particularly, excessive praise or incredibly harsh criticism can distort an individual’s perception of themselves and others.

2. Family history

There is often a genetic factor in the development of mental health conditions. Those with a family history of substance abuse are more at risk themselves, and this also applies to alcoholism.

3. Lifestyle and occupation

Stress is often at the heart of poor mental health. Someone who is subjected to a lot of stress in their day-to-day life – either due to their job or a traumatic event – will be more inclined to consume and rely upon alcohol to cope.

As for narcissism, a similar relationship exists between an individual’s lifestyle and their childhood when it comes to their condition. Those who regularly receive constant praise or criticism are at risk of developing unhealthy conceptions about their status, among others.

For more help, call 0800 111 4108  to speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Someone I Know Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder And Has Started Drinking – What Should I Do?

Two women talking

If you know someone who displays symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and they have started drinking, the best thing you can do is talk to them. Of course, the nature of their condition means they will be less likely to hear your concerns, but you have options.

An intervention is a common technique used for bringing an individual’s attention to the risks of their drinking, and this might be the most suitable for addressing a narcissist.

Interventions see family and friends uniting to confront an individual about their drinking. It allows everyone to speak, creating an atmosphere of stern yet sensitive support.

This technique minimises an individual’s ability to deny concerns by outnumbering them. A narcissist will struggle to challenge the genuine worries of so many people, but even if they do not immediately agree to seek help, the event can work to get them thinking.

Organising interventions are very difficult, and you might be uncertain as to whether one is really necessary.

If you need support, get in touch with your GP, or give Rehab 4 Alcoholism a call and talk to a member of our team on 0800 111 4108.

Get Help From Us At Rehab 4 Alcoholism

A bumpy road

Alcoholism and narcissism can be a frightening pair of things to face, and getting help might seem like an impossible task.

However, you need not fear, as our team at Rehab 4 Alcoholism is here to help.

We understand that it can be frightening to consider looking for treatment, so why not give us a call at 0800 111 4108 and let us help you kickstart your road to recovery?






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