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What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Alcoholic?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By anon998183 — On Apr 21, 2017

'Narcissists tend to have very low self esteem despite the fact that they appear to be confident.'

Recent research would dispute that. See Dr George Simon's articles about them.

By ZipLine — On Oct 11, 2013

@donasmrs-- We can't diagnose one another with psychological disorders and addictions! Only a qualified psychiatrist can do that! You should speak to a doctor on how to approach your girlfriend about her seeing a doctor herself.

I'm not an expert or a doctor but I do have an opinion on this topic because my sister is a narcissist and alcoholic.

It is true that a narcissist can become more problematic and abusive when drinking alcohol. Alcoholism, along with other addictions are emotionally destructive for narcissists because addictions push people away. Loneliness is the worst thing that can happen to a narcissist, because most narcissist thrive on affection, care, praise and attention.

Some also thrive on negative interaction and might look for a fight if he or she feels that positive interaction is not possible. This is why alcoholic narcissists tend to be more aggressive, upset and abusive than other narcissists.

By donasmrs — On Oct 10, 2013

I suspect that my girlfriend might be suffering from these issues. She has always had narcissistic characteristics. Lately, she has been drinking more and more and becomes very abusive verbally towards me when she drinks.

By SarahGen — On Oct 10, 2013

I think people with narcissistic personally disorder (NPD) are at an increased risk of suffering from addictions. My ex husband had narcissistic personality disorder and he was an alcoholic. I'm not making assumptions, he did have a clinical diagnosis for both.

Narcissists tend to have very low self esteem despite the fact that they appear to be confident. I think most of this plays out subconsciously and a narcissist has to put down other people and constantly be at the center of attention to feel better about himself. At least, this is what my ex husband was like.

When a narcissist is unable to get the kind of response he expects, the low self-esteem can encourage addictions like drugs and alcohol. I'm a very confident woman and I have never put up with my husband's lies and put-downs. Whenever he felt "defeated" in his relationship with me, he would find comfort in alcohol.

It can be very difficult for family members and friends to help a loved one with NPD. But we have to keep in mind that they have a problem and this problem is harming them more than anyone. I still talk to my ex husband and encourage him to get help.

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