A narcissistic alcoholic suffers from both narcissistic personality disorder and alcoholism. These two conditions do not always occur simultaneously, though they can easily feed into one another, exacerbating each condition. In order to be diagnosed as a narcissistic alcoholic, a medical or psychological professional must evaluate a patient's health and behavior. The basic symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include an unhealthy and distorted view of the self as better than others and above criticism. Coupled with alcoholism, this can lead to the incorrect belief that a person's drinking is under control and is not harming either the alcoholic or loved ones.
There are a variety of different symptoms that a narcissistic alcoholic can display. Some of the more common ones are the belief that the person is better than others, even in the face of contrary evidence. People who are narcissistic may react badly when criticized or when another person bests them, even at a friendly game. When a person with this disorder is faced with these situations, alcohol may be a refuge that allows the person to hide from reality.
A person who is a narcissistic alcoholic may also disregard the feelings, opinions, or needs of others. Family may confront the alcoholic and explain how the person's drinking is harming those around them, but the person with this disorder may react as if it is everyone else who has a problem. The narcissistic alcoholic may dismiss the concerns of loved ones as irrelevant or incorrect, claiming that the drinking is under control, is not a problem, or that if it does hurt others, that these people should learn to deal with it.
The symptoms of alcoholism can be difficult to pinpoint because people have different tolerances for alcohol. In general, symptoms include the need to drink every day and the inability to stop drinking, even for a short time. Alcoholics may suffer from withdrawal symptoms when there is no alcohol in their systems, especially in the morning, although these symptoms will often go away if the person drinks alcohol. As the alcoholic's body becomes accustomed to drinking, it may take more and more alcohol to achieve the effects that a couple of drinks used to produce. Doctors may examine drinking behavior as well as blood count and liver function when diagnosing narcissistic alcoholism.