Are you or a loved one looking for a sober living program? Give us a call! 424-327-4614

Are you or a loved one looking for a sober living program?  Give us a call!

Narcissism and Drug Addiction – What Happens When Two Disorders Meet

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

Having a narcissistic personality disorder can be exceedingly harmful to drug addiction. Knowing the role of narcissism in addiction can assist you or a loved one in receiving the necessary medical care before it is too late.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is defined as excessive self-involvement to the point that a person ignores the needs of the people around them. Everyone can behave with narcissism occasionally, but real narcissists consistently neglect other people or their feelings. They are also unaware of the impact of their behavior on other people.

01 1 Design for Recovery

People with narcissism are urged to receive praise or adoration, command attention, and expect special treatment in keeping up with one’s perceived superiority.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association defines a narcissistic personality disorder as a mental condition in which persons have an inflated sense of self-importance. People with this condition are incapable of understanding and caring about the feelings of others. However, underneath their outward display of excessive confidence, they lack confidence in their abilities and are severely hurt by the most straightforward criticism.

The prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder in the general population of the U.S. is said to be higher in men than in women. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorders may also feel dissatisfied and let down when they don’t receive the special treatment or admiration they think entitled to. They could find their relationships difficult and unsatisfying; others might not like being around them.

02 1 Design for Recovery

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), lists ten personality disorders, and narcissistic personality disorder NPD is one of them.

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The etiology of narcissistic personality disorders is unknown. It is a complex mental health disorder that several factors can influence:

  • Neurobiology – the link between the brain, behavior, and thought process
  • Environmental Factors – relationships between parents and children that are either too loving or overly critical and don’t reflect the child’s actual experiences and accomplishments
  • Genetic Factors – hereditary features, such as particular personality traits


You’ve Already Survived 100% of Your Bad Days

Tough days might come, but with our supportive sober community, you’re never alone. Whether transitioning from a rehab center or another sober living in Los Angeles, we’re here to help. Our success stories statnd testament. Contact us for a confidential chat and evaluation.


Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A narcissistic personality disorder is categorized into two types. While these types may share a few characteristics, they have different childhood experiences. The two categories also determine how individuals behave in various sorts of relationships.

Grandiose or Overt Narcissism

People exhibiting narcissistic behavior were likely raised to believe they were superior to or above others. As these children get older, these expectations may remain relevant to them. They frequently have narcissistic tendencies, including boasting and being snobbish.

Grandiose narcissists are also arrogant, overbearing, and exaggerate their relevance. They lack empathy and have a strong sense of self. They are mostly extroverted but also selfish and uncooperative. These individuals tend to overthink their emotional intelligence when they have low self-esteem.

Vulnerable or Covert Narcissism

It’s typical to see all narcissists as domineering and aggressive in social settings. However, vulnerable or covert narcissists are introverted. They typically have low self-esteem and are pretty sensitive to criticism. They tend to be passive-aggressive and defensive, although they are less prone than overt narcissists to exaggerate their emotional intelligence.

This behavior is typically the outcome of neglect or abuse during childhood. Individuals that exhibit vulnerable or covert narcissism are far more sensitive. Their narcissistic traits serve to shield them from inferiority issues. They alternate between feeling inferior and superior to others, yet they still become upset or anxious when not given special treatment.

Narcissism and Addiction

A narcissistic personality disorder is frequently associated with other mental health issues. People with this disorder frequently exhibit difficulty sustaining relationships and their jobs, thus affecting their emotional and mental health.

03 Design for Recovery

The Similarities Between Narcissism and Drug Addiction

There are several similar traits between substance abuse and pathological narcissism, such as the person’s inability to identify the effects of one’s behavior, fluctuating or low self-esteem issues, lack of empathy, an attitude of superiority, and defensive behavior to avoid negative feelings or criticism. Those with pathological narcissism and substance use disorder seek something to fill an internal void. They often turn to drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, such as compulsive shopping.

Both narcissism and addiction impair physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They can potentially ruin a person’s financial stability and cause legal problems.

How Are Narcissism And Drug Addiction Related?

Narcissism has a significant connection to drug use problems. In a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, researchers examined the link between narcissism and substance use, suggesting that self-esteem plays a significant role. Individuals with narcissism tend to use drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances as a form of validation, which stems from their unstable self-esteem.

In addition, another research on young adults with vulnerable or covert narcissism discovered that mental health disorders could make a person experience intense feelings of shame. The person then turns to illicit substances or alcohol to mask these feelings, which causes more sense of guilt. As a result, a pattern of dependent behavior is developed, which is highly destructive.

What Happens When A Narcissist Uses Drugs?

When it comes to substance abuse, narcissists frequently think they can manage the consequences of drugs and alcohol better than others. They may fall into the cycle of addiction more quickly than they realize whenever they feel this way. As signs of addiction, such as cravings, increased tolerance, and other adverse effects, start to appear, the narcissist will frequently deny that they have a problem. They attempt to convince everyone around them that they can manage the substances because they don’t want to think they are putting themselves in danger. As a result, they get caught in the vicious cycle of addiction.




Sober Living Home for Men in Los Angeles, California

If you are ready to make a change and start rebuilding your life, check out some testimonials from other young men who have been through our program and call us at (424)327-4614 today.


Effects of Substance Abuse on Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms

Substance abuse can increase several symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, including a grandiose or inflated sense of self, feelings of superiority and invincibility, and a lack of empathy. The effectiveness of therapeutic strategies for a narcissistic personality disorder may be compromised by substance use disorders while receiving therapy from a mental health professional. Individuals with co-occurring selfish and substance use disorders have been observed to be more aggressive and hostile, making treatment more difficult.

How Do Narcissistic Drug Addicts Behave?

Self-obsession in narcissists can result in certain undesirable behaviors. Those who have narcissistic personality disorder typically exhibit more extreme tendencies, such as:

A Lack of Empathy

Narcissists frequently behave in a way that has little to no regard for the well-being of others.

A Hunger for Attention and Admiration

Narcissists depend on external approval to keep their self-esteem high. This means they continuously want attention and recognition.

A Feeling of Entitlement

Narcissists believe they are entitled to attention, respect, and opportunity. Even in extreme situations, narcissists believe they are entitled to other people’s love, affection, or friendship.

04 Design for Recovery

Overstating Accomplishments

Narcissists yearn for other people’s admiration. They could exaggerate the facts or lie about their accomplishments to win admiration.

A Perception that they are Special

Narcissists believe they are more extraordinary than other people. They feel that they merit certain privileges as a result.

Excessive Concern About One’s Looks

Narcissists are sometimes obsessive about how they look. They could take hours to prepare and spend the entire day checking the mirror.

A Tendency to Behave with Jealousy

Others’ accomplishments make narcissists feel threatened. They want to hold onto the idea that they are special. As a result, they attempt to discredit the accomplishments of others.

Manipulative and Exploitative Traits

Extreme narcissists may deceive and exploit to achieve their goals or get what they want.

A Preoccupation with Fame, Wealth, or Power

We all dream about attaining success. However, narcissists can have an unhealthy obsession with achieving wealth and power.

Self-esteem that is Frequently Threatened

Narcissists may seem confident, but they always mask their low self-esteem. They will become upset if something challenges their self-esteem and sense of self-importance.

The Narcissist-Addiction Dual Diagnosis

The terms “dual diagnosis” and “co-occurring disorders” mean that a person has an addiction and a mental health disorder —for instance, narcissism with substance use disorders. Both conditions must be addressed simultaneously for an individual to recover successfully.

If narcissists are only given medical care for their substance use disorders, the underlying issues of their untreated narcissism may cause them to relapse.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD and Alcohol

According to a 2018 research involving college students, grandiose and vulnerable narcissism are significant predictors of alcohol-related problems.

05 Design for Recovery

The study’s findings revealed that those with grandiose narcissism can better assess and identify their alcohol-related problems than those with vulnerable narcissism. The latter group has a lower capacity to recognize their problems. As a result, they are less likely to be motivated to alter their behavior.

Other Addictions in Narcissists

Grandiose narcissism has been associated with pathological gambling, compulsive shopping, smartphone use, compulsive working, and addictive social media use. Grandiose narcissism is associated with problematic social media use (especially Facebook) because of the desire to be adored and, to a smaller extent, the need to belong. Those with superb traits tend to have increased risk-taking behaviors when using substances, social media, or having sex if their desire for admiration is unmet.

Living With a Narcissist with Addiction Problems

Living with or being close to someone with narcissism and addiction can be difficult. Once family and friends understand what’s causing the person’s behavior, they can show more compassion. Still, it can be quite challenging to convince someone with a narcissistic personality disorder to get therapy, especially since they rarely acknowledge their addiction problem. However, if you know someone with this disorder who genuinely needs assistance, try to find a way to help them. They know they need you, but they sometimes hesitate to say it.

06 Design for Recovery

Everyone has a reason for their behavior, and addicts and narcissists may give you a perfectly valid excuse for why they should consume alcohol or other substances, whether or not those justifications are valid. Because of their narcissistic traits, they might feel embarrassed to talk about their problem because they see it as a flaw or failure in themselves.

The good news is that narcissistic personality disorder and addiction are highly treatable, so you shouldn’t feel helpless if you or someone you know are battling this dual diagnosis. If you or someone you care about appears to be an addict narcissist, there is hope and no need to be ashamed. Addiction is a severe condition. Not treating it can lead to ruined relationships, health consequences, and even death. Contact a mental health professional to know more about counseling or therapy options for narcissists and addiction.

How Do We Treat Addiction and Dual Diagnosis at Design Recovery?

People with dual diagnosis may find it difficult to heal from disorders without the help of a mental health professional. If substance abuse is treated without attention for the narcissistic personality disorder, the person may struggle to find long-term recovery. Similarly, if narcissistic personality disorder is the only thing addressed, ongoing addiction is still possible.

Realizing that you or a loved one is dealing with a dual diagnosis can be challenging. However, with the help of a proper addiction recovery program, narcissistic personality disorder and substance use disorder are treatable.

Counseling or talk therapy is primarily recommended for narcissistic personality disorder. It enables you to see your issues more clearly and discover the changes you can make to create a positive self-image, maintain a rewarding and pleasant relationship with others, and set more reasonable expectations for other people.

At Design for Recovery sober living homes, we develop individualized regimens for each resident, including individuals with dual diagnoses, such as drug abuse and grandiose narcissism. Sober living houses allow individuals struggling with addiction to live in a secure, supportive, drug-free, and alcohol-free environment. The highly skilled professionals at Design for Recovery can provide compassionate and successful rehabilitation through a comprehensive plan, improving your overall physical and mental health.

Staff members also partner with residents to create long-term plans that may be used to address lifestyle changes and ongoing problems such as employment support and family relationships. We believe sober living should be holistic, individual-focused, and centered on all aspects of an individual’s life.

Design for Recovery sober living house also works with several outpatient clinics to ensure that people with dual diagnoses who struggle with substance or alcohol use disorder and mental health disorders receive the care they need.

Each person’s path to recovery is unique and calls for specialized, professional help. Call us now if you or a loved one need more information about rehabilitation for addiction and mental disorders.



Are You Looking for a Safe and Structured Place?

Join us at Design for Recovery sober living homes in Los Angeles, California.


Frequently Asked Questions

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Yes. Narcissism can have an impact on one’s recovery from addiction. People with narcissism and addiction frequently seek something to fill their internal void. They mostly look to illegal drugs and alcohol to fulfill this need.

Moreover, narcissistic individuals think they are more capable than others of dealing with the effects of drug abuse and alcohol. They think too highly of themselves and believe they can handle substance use without help from others. This behavior leads to a destructive addiction cycle.

Individuals with narcissism are willing to put themselves in risky situations to feel superior. According to research, narcissistic individuals are more prone to engage in impulsive and abusive behaviors when using drugs, alcohol, gambling, and social media, increasing their risk of addiction.

However, it is essential to note that not all narcissistic people easily develop an addiction.

People with narcissistic personality disorder use substances to cope with their negative affect and emotions. Because they mask their self-esteem issues, people with a narcissistic personality disorder often turn to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances to feel validated and compensate for an unstable sense of self-worth. 

Grandiose narcissism has been linked to drug abuse, alcohol use, compulsive working, pathological gambling, smartphone usage, compulsive shopping, and social media addiction. People with narcissism may have impaired control of substance use and turn to these substances to minimize feelings of inferiority that fluctuating self-esteem can bring about while also achieving a state of superiority over others.

Other Articles Related to Mental Health Disorder:

[1] Anxiety and Substance Abuse

[2] Depression and Addiction

[3] Addictive Personality

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2022). What are Personality Disorders?
  2. Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A., Goldstein, R. B., Chou, S. P., Huang, B., Smith, S. M., Ruan, W. J., Pulay, A. J., Saha, T. D., Pickering, R. P., & Grant, B. F. (2008). Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV narcissistic personality disorder: results from the wave two national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 69(7), 1033–1045.
  3. Jauk, E., Weigle, E., Lehmann, K., Benedek, M., & Neubauer, A. C. (2017). The Relationship between Grandiose and Vulnerable (Hypersensitive) Narcissism. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1600.
  4. Mitra P, Fluyau D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. [Updated 2022 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  5. Jauk, E., et al. (2019). Addiction and the dark triad of personality.
  6. Bilevicius, E., Neufeld, D.C., & Single, A. Vulnerable narcissism and addiction: The mediating role of shame. Addictive Behaviors, Volume 92, 2019, Pages 115-121, ISSN 0306-4603.
  7. Welker, L. E., Simons, R. M., & Simons, J. S. (2019). Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism: Associations with alcohol use, alcohol problems and problem recognition. Journal of American college health : J of ACH, 67(3), 226–234.
  8. Casale, S., & Banchi, V. (2020). Narcissism and problematic social media use: A systematic literature review. Addictive behaviors reports, 11, 100252.


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

We Can Help

Read More

Addiction & Recovery

Sober Living in Los Angeles - Design for Recovery

About Us

Design for Recovery empowers men struggling with addiction by providing 24/7 support, mentorship, and teaches them how to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Chat with us on Facebook
relapse prevention

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction? We can help!

Our advisors are waiting for your call: 424-327-4614

Reach out to us today.

Design For Recovery is committed to helping you or your loved one live a fulfilling life free from alcohol and drug addiction. Below you can find out what to expect when you contact us for help.

Call us at (424) 327-4614 or fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you soon.

Send us a message below and we will reach out to you.
Design for Recovery Contact - Popup