It’s true to say that alcohol misuse and narcissism don’t always come hand in hand. I’ve had a few people say to me, “all alcoholics are narcissists”, they aren’t!
What is Narcissism?
Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
Selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterising a personality type.
Behaviour of someone with Narcissism
When someone has narcissism, they have feelings of self-importance and rarely if ever accept their at fault for things. Their perception of their life differs vastly from what others think of them. They think their version of reality is accurate and fact.
Usually they have very little care and thought for others, also struggling to empathise. They can be extremely arrogant, manipulative and self-righteous.
Relationships are challenging because of the characteristics I’ve mentioned above. When someone has a drinking problem, as well as narcissism it’s exaggerated even more.
Narcissism and Alcoholism
Alcohol misuse and narcissism are closely linked. See below areas they have in common:
Their behaviour is unpredictable
Inability to reflect on themselves
Sense of entitlement
Won’t take responsibility
Their behaviour is at the cost of others
They’re destructive to themselves
Surface level relationships, not authentic
They manipulate people
Shame forms a bit part of their life
Maybe you recognise these qualities in the drinker in your life, whether they’re still active in their addiction now or not.
When the person stops drinking, some of those qualities will stop which generally doesn’t happen with a narcissist. I know active drinkers that can be totally self-absorbed with no empathy or thought for the family, yet when they stop drinking then can have empathy and feel guilt.
How do you cope with a drinker that is a narcissist?
Below are some suggestions as to how you can look after yourself and cope with a narcissistic drinker.
Put boundaries in place, make sure you know what is important to you and be consistent
Know you can’t change the person or stop them drinking
Work on lowering your expectations
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