Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Addiction Treatment
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a deeply disruptive mental health disorder that can both stem from and create overwhelming psychological pain. While some level of self-interest is natural and even healthy, people with NPD are driven by an all-encompassing self-absorption and craving for admiration that impair normal social functioning and prevent the formation of genuine, reciprocal social connections. Often, the emotional and behavioral symptoms of the illness profoundly damage relationships, and family members are often left feeling helpless in the face of mounting dysfunction, particularly when NPD leads to co-occurring drug addiction.
Overwhelming and Fragile Self-Importance
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by an inflated sense of self that permeates every aspect of your life. You constantly crave attention and admiration, have little concern for others, and are unable to experience empathy and compassion. In fact, other people are often primarily regarded as tools to getting what you want, whether practically or emotionally, and you may engage in manipulative or even abusive behavior to achieve your goals. Although people may be drawn to your confidence and initially find your self-assuredness attractive, often these qualities are only a façade that masks profound and painful insecurity. Your exaggerated feelings of self-importance typically rest on fragile ground, and must be constantly reaffirmed to maintain a cohesive sense of self; as such, you may lash out in the face of criticism or if someone else takes the spotlight. You may also experience deep distress if you fail to live up to your image of perfection or if you believe you are being denied the attention, admiration, or success that is rightfully yours.
The causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are not fully understood, but experts believe that the condition arises from both biological and environmental factors, particularly early childhood experiences. Often, people with NPD have endured childhood trauma or grew up in dysfunctional households in which parenting behavior nurtured the emergence of narcissistic traits. In some cases, constant praise and coddling can plant the seed of narcissism. In other cases, NPD develops as a survival tactic in response to abuse, neglect, and constant criticism.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder experience a host of symptoms that include:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Believing you are special, unique, and more deserving than other people
- An insatiable craving for attention and admiration
- Hypersensitivity to criticism
- Preoccupation with power, perfection, status, money, and success
- Lacking the ability to empathize with others
- Exploiting others to get what you want
- Feeling deep envy toward others and/or believing others are envious of you
Often people with NPD also experience mood volatility, particularly if you do not believe others are treating you in the way you think you deserve.
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Addiction
While all people with mental illness are at heightened risk of substance abuse, the emotional and behavioral characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder present unique risk factors that result in an extraordinarily high rate of co-occurring drug addiction. Experts estimate that 65% of people with NPD will also have a substance use disorder in their lifetimes, and men are particularly vulnerable to becoming addicted.
For many, NPD is accompanied by profound psychological pain stemming from histories of trauma, experiences of childhood abuse or neglect, and deep insecurity that must be constantly tempered by self-aggrandizement. Drugs can be an attractive way to escape emotional turmoil and provide euphoria, confidence, escape, and numbness in the face of unbearable distress. At the same time, people with NPD often take great pleasure in indulging in reckless behavior and believe that social norms, laws, and health risks don’t apply to them, removing significant internal barriers to substance use and allowing addiction to grow deeper. In some cases, drug abuse may be another tool to satisfy the craving for attention and turning the spotlight on yourself. Because you lack the self-awareness to realistically assess your behavior, addiction often has the opportunity to flourish unfettered.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many people are under the impression that NPD is untreatable and that they have no hope of recovery. In fact, research indicates that modern therapies can greatly alleviate NPD symptoms, helping you establish emotional tranquility, and allowing you to forge genuine relationships with others. If you’re struggling with co-occurring drug addiction, however, treating the NPD alone is not enough; in order to address the full scope of your complex needs, it is imperative to seek specialized,dual diagnosis treatment from clinicians with the expertise to treat both your mental health disorder and your addiction.
To allow you to heal both emotionally and behaviorally, your treatment plan must be tailored to your unique situation, taking into account your individual history, symptoms, and strengths. A full-spectrum approach that combines the finest NPD and addiction interventions in a way that speaks to you gives you the ability to make meaningful changes that relieve you of your suffering. Comprehensive treatment includes:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Holistic Therapies
- 12-step support groups
Although there is no medication specifically for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, pharmacological treatments may be administered to address specific symptoms or to treat other co-occurring mental health disorders.
For people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, admitting that things are not as they should be can be extremely difficult; after all, the illness is defined by a belief in your own superiority, and questioning your psychological health threatens the sense of self you have developed to cope with the world around you. While some are able to recognize that they need help, often people with NPD enter treatment only at the urging of family members whose lives have been deeply disrupted by their loved one’s NPD and drug addiction. Choosing a dual diagnosis treatment facility with dedicatedfamily programming designed to help the whole family heal from the impact of these painful co-occurring illnesses can be essential to the recovery process, and allows you to nurture both yourself individually and each other. Together, you can create a path toward a richer, more fulfilling future.
If you would like more information about drug addiction and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer support and guidance to help you find the treatment you need to move toward renewed wellness.