A person’s ease in addiction recovery is dependent on an infinite number of factors. The presence of other disorders is just one of the factors that plays a strong role in recovery. Personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, can be particularly devastating to addiction recovery.
What Is Narcissism?
Narcissism is a personality trait that is characterized by vanity and self-admiration. Though every person experiences these feelings at some point and to some degree, some people experience them at a much greater level for an extended period of time. Depending on the degree and length of time, some people are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition that involves a mental preoccupation with one’s self-importance and power. Those with this disorder expect constant attention and admiration from others to fill the need of feeling superior. They might also expect special treatment and become unreasonably offended when their expectations are not filled. In addition, those with narcissistic personality disorder have a limited ability to feel and express empathy. The inability to empathize with others is one of many reasons that those with this disorder may have difficulty with interpersonal relationships.
Narcissism and Addiction
Narcissistic personality disorder has many negative effects on a person’s life that can ultimately lead to substance abuse and addiction. Shame is a common emotion that is found hidden underneath the expressed confidence of those with narcissism. When those with narcissistic personality disorder acknowledge this buried shame, they can become quickly overwhelmed. In many cases, this leads them to use drugs or alcohol as a way to cover up the uncomfortable emotions. If their feelings of shame are never truly worked through, substance abuse may continue to occur, and addiction can develop.
Another factor associated with substance abuse by those with narcissistic personality disorder is unhealthy interpersonal relationships. Often, those with narcissism have personal traits that push others away. As a result, they may struggle to build or maintain friendships. They may then become socially isolated and self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to offset the loneliness.
Effects of Narcissism on Addiction Recovery
Often, those who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder struggle to seek help for their addiction. This is due to many different factors, but the need to maintain a powerful image is one of the most recognized reasons. Those with narcissistic personality disorder have a deep need to be looked up to; they need to feel powerful, successful, and superior. Because of this, it can be difficult for them to admit that they have a problem and that they need professional help. They might fear that others will perceive them to be weak and therefore choose to avoid addiction treatment altogether.
Those who do make the choice to enter addiction treatment may face additional struggles throughout recovery, largely due to the lack of friends to form a support network. When those with narcissistic personality disorder develop addictions, they often experience even greater social isolation. As a result, these recovering addicts may not have any close friends to turn to when recovery becomes exceedingly difficult.
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