Addiction and Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition. It causes people to have unrealistic views of themself and to lack empathy. Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with symptoms. However, this harmful use of substances can quickly turn to addiction. Narcissistic personality disorder treatment can help overcome both NPD and addiction.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissism is a Cluster B personality disorder. It affects men more than women. NPD typically begins in the teen years or early adulthood. People who suffer from NPD may struggle to keep a job or a relationship. It’s because they don’t relate to people healthily.

Signs of narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • Manipulation
  • Constant comparison to others
  • “Better-than” attitude
  • Needs special treatment
  • An extreme need for admiration
  • Unable to get along with others
  • A need to be right
  • Impulsive
  • Attention-seeker, especially in medical settings
  • Demanding
  • Low self-esteem
  • Refuses treatment

Narcissistic people cut others down to make themselves feel better. Their behaviors also reflect their disregard for other’s feelings. At the same time, they are super sensitive. They can dwell on situations where they felt wronged. 

Narcissism often makes people over exaggerate. They may tell elaborate fantasies about their past or future dreams. But, as good as it makes the person feel, it’s only covering up feelings of unworthiness and doubt. 

When a narcissist feels wronged:

  • Become impatient or angry
  • Easily feels they got less than others
  • Tries to belittle others to make themself feel better
  • Trouble controlling emotions and behaviors
  • Doesn’t handle stress or change well
  • Needs to be perfect
  • Secret feelings of insecurity, shame, humiliation, and vulnerability

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance – Grandiosity is the defining symptom of narcissism. It is more than just vanity or arrogance. It is a sense of superiority. People with NPD believe they are too good for average or ordinary. 
  • Lives in a fantasy world – Because reality doesn’t support a narcissist view of themself, they live in a fantasy world—a distortion and magical thinking world. The fantasies are of unlimited success, brilliance, attractiveness, and power. But, if a person challenges a narcissist’s behavior, they respond with anger and defensiveness. 
  • Needs constant admiration – A narcissist’s ego needs to be continuously fed. As a result, they surround themselves with people who feed their egos. But, these relationships are one-sided. It’s all about the narcissist. However, if the narcissist feels a lack of attention, they treat it as a betrayal. 
  • Exploits others – Narcissists never build a sense of empathy. Empathy is being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. But, narcissists view people as things. As a result, they take advantage of others for their benefit. Narcissists don’t think about how their behaviors affect others. Unfortunately, the only thing they understand is their needs. 
  • Demeans and bullies others – A narcissist feels threatened if they lack something another person has. Confidence and popularity are very threatening to a narcissist. They may dismiss the other person. Or they may attack with insults and threats. 

Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It isn’t known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with all mental illness (AMI) and personality development, the causes can be tricky. NPD may be linked to:

  • Environmental factors include how a person is raised and their role in the family. They may have experienced extreme criticism or adoration or had to be the parent when growing up.
  • Genetics has inherited factors.
  • Biological factors are anything physical that leads to mental illness. The factors include prenatal damage, infections, brain defects, and substance use disorder (SUD).

Whatever the cause of NPD is, narcissistic personality disorder treatment can help. Therapies can help resolve underlying issues and build coping skills.

What is the Link Between Narcissism and Addiction?

Narcissistic personality disorder causes destructive behaviors. These behaviors can make it hard to form lasting relationships. Although narcissists come across as full of themselves, they struggle with feeling worthy and often feel lonely.

Due to the isolating feelings of NPD, people turn to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, substance use disorder (SUD) is high in those with NPD. Forty percent of narcissists have SUD. The use of drugs and alcohol helps cope with the shame, anger, and feelings of worthlessness. 

The use of substances to relax or feel a sense of belonging brings risks of its own. While continuing to use can quickly lead to addiction. People with narcissistic personality disorder commonly misuse:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Stimulants – cocaine, ecstasy
  • Benzodiazepines (Benzos) – Xanax, Valium, Klonopin

Dangers of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Addiction

A narcissistic personality disorder isn’t typically life-threatening. However, there are some risks with NPD. This is especially true when addiction is co-occurring with NPD.

Stimulant use in people with NPD increases the risk of aggression and mood disturbances. Benzos are also dangerous. They can increase violent behaviors in those with NPD. 

People with co-occurring NPD and addiction increase their risk of:

  • Domestic violence
  • Criminal issues
  • Financial issues
  • Multiple suicide attempts
  • Health issues
  • Violent outbursts
  • Resistant to narcissistic personality disorder treatment

Without addiction and narcissistic personality disorder treatment, the long-term effects could be life-threatening. 

Signs of Addiction

If you are not sure if the use of substances has turned to addiction, the common signs are:

  • Consuming more of a substance than intended
  • Trying to quit and still going back to using
  • Spending an excessive amount of time finding, buying, and using the substance
  • Intense cravings
  • Use interferes with responsibilities
  • Continuing to use despite the results
  • Substances are more important than fun activities
  • Risky behaviors due to use
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment and Dual Diagnosis

While narcissistic personality disorder treatment is typically done in an outpatient setting, co-occurring disorders like addiction need more intense treatment. Narcissistic personality disorder treatment in inpatient, intensive outpatient or partial-hospitalization settings can help find Recovery for Life. 

Facilities like Sana Lake offer members a “whole person” approach to narcissistic personality disorder treatment. A “whole person” approach starts with a full assessment of any co-occurring disorders, particularly SUD. Afterward, a variety of individualized therapy programs help address and treat a member’s issues. 

Psychotherapy in Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is the most useful approach in narcissistic personality disorder treatment. The goal of therapy is to gain a more realistic view of self. Additionally, therapy teaches members proper social skills and relating to others. 

Ongoing long-term therapy helps members accept how NPD has damaged their lives. Besides, treating NPD and addiction with long-term treatment motivates members to reach their full potential. Understanding how NPD and addiction affect behaviors, moods, and thoughts helps build positive relationship skills. 

Because members with NPD think they do no wrong, therapists must approach therapy with caution. By working together, therapists and narcissistic members identify the actions and attitudes causing issues. Throughout recovery, therapists motivate members to change their thoughts and attitudes. The changes result in behavioral changes that influence recovery from addiction. 

Evidence-Based Addiction and Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

Evidence-based therapy programs are vital to “whole person” narcissistic personality disorder treatment with co-occurring addiction. They often include the following therapies.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapies for NPD. Cognitive therapy focuses on how thoughts and beliefs affect moods and behaviors. At the same time, behavior therapy focuses on changing the pattern of harmful behaviors. 
  • Psychodynamic therapy – members and therapists work through past experiences and evaluate how they affect the present. 
  • Family therapy– rebuilding healthy relationships is crucial in narcissistic personality disorder treatment. The actions of a narcissist affect the entire family. In family therapy, members and their families work through the past and rebuild a healthy future.

Holistic Therapies in Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

Centers like Sana Lake, which offer a “whole person” approach to treatment, have various holistic therapy options.  Holistic therapies used in the long-term treatment of NPD and addiction can increase Recovery for Life. 

Holistic therapies include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Breathing techniques
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Journaling
  • Hiking/outdoor activities

Medication Therapy in Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

Even though medication is not used to treat NPD, it can treat co-occurring conditions like an addiction. Depending on the addiction, detox may be necessary. Drugs can be used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. As well as medication-assisted therapy to aid in continuing the recovery journey. 

Seeking Addiction and Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment at Sana Lake

One of the hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder is the denial of a problem. Add the dangers of addiction, and it can lead to risky and life-threatening behaviors. But, seeking treatment isn’t easy. Because it means admitting there is a problem. 

If a loved one is battling addiction and NPD and refuses help, Sana Lake can help. We provide professional interventions to help people see the need for treatment. We understand the struggles of NPD and help our members build healthy long-term coping skills. 

At Sana Lake, we believe in helping our members with encouragement and guidance. Each member who walks through our doors can manage the symptoms of NPD and find recovery from addiction. All they need is motivation, encouragement, and know-how. 

Our doctors, therapists, and wellness coaches are committed to each member finding Recovery for LIfe. Contact us today to find out how San Lake can get you started on the road to recovery.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138327/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335730/

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.