Almost everyone on the planet has at least a little bit of self-love. That’s the element that gives people confidence and magnetism, and it’s the sort of personality attribute that can make a person seem attractive or even powerful. But humility is also an important part of the psyche of a healthy adult, as it allows people to respect others and balance the needs of the self against the needs of society as a whole. When that balance is upset and people love themselves more than their neighbors, narcissism could be at play, and that could lead to addiction.
There is no single drug that people with narcissism tend to lean on more than any other. Instead, people like this tend to take in the same kinds of substances that are popular among all drug users, including:
The difference appears in how people with narcissism take these drugs. As an article in Psychology Today explains, people who have narcissism believe that they’re simply stronger and better than their peers. They believe that nothing negative can or will happen to them, simply because they’re extraordinary and capable of handling any challenge that might come along. People like this might take huge amounts of substances in at once, and they might not think that this behavior is risky at all. Instead, they think they’ll never get an addiction. It just couldn’t happen to them.
Similarly, people like this don’t spot the signs of addiction when they are in play. Really noticing an addiction means admitting that something is wrong or that something didn’t play out in a way that the person planned for. Narcissistic people just can’t admit these connections. Instead, they believe they have it all figured out.
In a typical addiction program, people are asked to admit to their powerlessness over the use and abuse of substances. That’s a key part of the tenets developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, and it’s this surrender that tends to lead to a spiritual awakening associated with healing. But as an article in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly points out, people who have narcissism often can’t relate to the idea of helplessness and submission to a higher power. They think they are the higher power, and they can’t understand why they simply can’t fix the problem alone. As a result, people like this might not succeed in a standard treatment program.
A more suitable approach involves taking the healing at a slow and respectful pace. People might have several introductory sessions, which allow them to get to know their therapists, and they might be taken through conversations in which the contradictions in their behaviors become clear. For example, someone who says the addiction is under control might be asked to explain the 10 parking tickets, two speeding tickets, and three arrests that have taken place in the last 12 months. In time, this kind of therapy can help to break apart narcissistic denial, and this might make sobriety easier to maintain.
If you need to approach someone with narcissism and addiction and you don’t know where to start, please call. We can give you the support you need to get the conversation started and allow therapy to begin. Call to find out more.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness