Narcissistic Personality Disorder: What is It? What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Narcissistic personality disorder is often characterized as a personality in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance while simultaneously exhibiting the inability to empathize with others.

They are frequently described as arrogant, manipulative, and demanding because of their constant need for attention and sense of self-grandness. People with this disorder tend to believe they are unique and special causing them to experience difficulty with any treatment that does not support this belief.

The causes of this disorder are not well understood, but many speculate that its development may be linked to biological factors and environmental or early-age experiences. In most cases, signs and symptoms of the disorder begin to present themselves in early adulthood and become more apparent in personal relationships and at work.

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Signs of symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder range greatly and the severity of symptoms will vary from person to person.

Some of the most common symptoms and behaviors exhibited by those with this disorder include:


  • Exaggerated achievements and talents
  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement
  • Require excessive admiration
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Behave arrogantly appearing conceited or pretentious
  • Become preoccupied with thoughts of power, brilliance, and perfection
  • Insist on having the best of everything
  • Believe they are superior to others and only associate with people they believe are on their level
  • Expect others to provide special favors
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle others

Those with narcissistic personality disorder also tend to struggle with anything they perceive to be criticism. This can cause the following behaviors and difficulties:


  • Experience difficulty regulating emotions or behaviors
  • Difficulty managing stress or change
  • Feel depressed because they believe they are falling short of expectations
  • Struggle with feeling insecure, shame, vulnerability, or humiliation
  • Have trouble managing interpersonal relationships
  • Become impatient or angry when they feel they do not receive special treatment
  • Attempt to belittle others in order to feel superior

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Narcissism & Addiction

Narcissists have difficulty maintaining long-term healthy relationships and careers because their attitudes can have a negative impact.

Because their view of themselves and the world around them is different, it can make it difficult for them to feel like they fit in. The discrepancies between how they feel the world should treat them and the way they are treated in reality can be difficult to deal with. Even when they are vying to be the center of attention and feel they deserve the spotlight, the reality can be different and cause some to use drugs or alcohol to cope.

Commonly Abused Substances

While there is no particular drug that those with this personality disorder turn to, narcissists who use drugs or alcohol tend to favor popularly abused substances including:


  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription medications
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine

Substance abuse may be fueled by an inability to deal with the differences between how they believe they should be treated versus their reality. It can also be driven by the belief that they are stronger than their peers and able to handle use. Narcissists’ egos can make them feel as though nothing bad will happen to them and they simply will not develop an addiction because it cannot happen.

narcissistic personality disorder and addiction

This personality disorder can also make it difficult to identify when an addiction has developed. Those with narcissism are often incapable of admitting something is wrong or things did not go as they intended. Instead, they believe they can figure it out on their own and conceal any signs of weakness or vulnerability.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Treating addiction in those with narcissistic personality disorder often requires specialized treatment. 

Because they have unrealistic beliefs about themselves compared to those around them, they may believe that they do not have a problem or that the standard treatment provided will simply be ineffective for them.

Dual-diagnosis treatment is incredibly effective for those with this personality disorder because it can treat both the addiction and mental health needs simultaneously.

Talk therapy works well for narcissism because it can allow treatment to evolve over a controlled pace. Over the course of several sessions, contradictions and problems can begin to reveal themselves in a way where the person can no longer deny them. This can help narcissists realize they must accept help for their addiction and that they need to reevaluate their perception of themselves in relation to the world around them.

If you or a loved one are suffering from mental health and/or addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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