Is It Narcissism Or Alcoholism? | Psychology Today

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Are you in a relationship with someone who puts themself and their drinking before others? It can be hard to hold a connection with someone who appears to only think about themselves. A loved one’s drinking and selfish behavior can be devastating and cause a lot of pain and disappointment. If you’ve ever wondered if your loved one’s issues surround only around their drinking problem or may in fact be narcissism, take a look at the following symptoms.

Is It Narcissism Or Alcoholism?
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental disorder where someone acts very selfishly and thinks very highly of themselves. In reality, these behaviors are a mask and the person actually has very fragile self esteem and self image.

Some symptoms that are displayed can be:

Alcoholism or “Alchohol Use Disorder” according to the DSM is someone who experiences:

Someone with a drinking problem will put their drinking before anyone and anything else. Has your loved one failed to show up to something important to you? Have they let you down by agreeing to quit and getting drunk anyway? They often blame others or deflect when confronted about their drinking. “You treat me so bad I have to drink” or “They had more drinks than me!”. 

Alcoholics often deny that they have a drinking problem. Narcissists will also deny that there is anything wrong with them. When in conflict with a narcissist they will turn everything around on you, use gaslighting, and be unable to apologize or agree to make any changes. 

Narcissists are full of entitlement as they lack empathy for others. They do whatever they want to others with no regard to their feelings. Alcoholics do the same by putting their drinking first and having no empathy for how it affects others.

Alcoholics and narcissists can also rapidly change their moods and behavior. If you’ve dealt with a narcissist you know one minute they can be charming and pleasant then turn around and become threatening and attacking. Alcoholics can have similar switches when under the influence and can seem like a different person in a matter of a few drinks.

Manipulation can be present with both issues as well. Alcoholics often use this tactic to get the drink they need. They will con a way to buy alcohol, drink in secret, and find a way to cover their drinking. For narcissists, manipulation is a way to use someone to get the reactions or attention they desire.

One thing both issues do not like is when people set firm boundaries and follow them. This can make them feel out of control of both you and their needs. Telling your loved one “no” can be difficult to do because of their disproportionate reaction. A lot of times the end of a relationship with a narcissist or alcoholic happens when the final boundary has been set. “If you don’t change I can no longer be in your life.”

It can be hard to discern even from a clinical perspective if alcoholism is separate from Narcissism. The behaviors can be similar while sober and intoxicated. The takeaway is that this person needs treatment to make significant changes in their life. Depending on the severity of the problem residential or inpatient treatment can be necessary. Once detox is completed and sobriety has begun, outpatient therapy can be very beneficial. It is also recommended to utilize family or couples counseling to heal relationships as well.

If the person does not want to go to treatment or change then there may not be hope for healing. The best thing to do at that point is to seek out individual therapy for yourself and work on setting boundaries. Al-Anon family groups can also be a great free resource to connect with others who also worry about a loved one’s drinking.

This content was originally published here.

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