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

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a relatively uncommon mental health disorder.
It affects about 5% of the general population, with a majority of cases being men. However, those who do suffer from narcissistic personality disorder often struggle to live a normal life.

The disorder isn’t curable, but it is manageable with professional intervention. If you or someone you love is dealing with NPD, getting treatment is important. When the condition is untreated, it can lead to significant issues, including a high risk of addiction.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition that makes people feel extremely self-important and superior to others. From an outsider’s perspective, someone with this condition has an inflated ego and is always looking for admiration and power.

Individuals who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder have trouble empathizing with others because they feel more important. As a result, this disorder can seriously affect a person’s ability to maintain relationships with friends and family.

People who have narcissistic personality disorder are frequently described as arrogant, manipulative, and demanding because of their constant need for attention. They might also seek special treatment because they believe they are entitled to recognition.

There isn’t a specific cause of this disorder, but many mental health professionals believe that it may be linked to biological factors and environmental or early-age experiences. In most cases, the signs of narcissistic personality disorder start to present themselves in early adulthood, and it can become more apparent as the person gets older.

Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

All human beings demonstrate narcissistic behaviors. In fact, narcissistic tendencies are considered to be an important part of child development. But narcissism can be measured on a spectrum, ranging from completely normal to clinical.

Narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder are very different. Narcissism is not a mental health condition, even though it can be troublesome. On the other hand, narcissistic personality disorder causes severe symptoms and consistent behaviors that surpass “normal” levels of narcissism.

Some of the signs of narcissistic personality behavior 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
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Since people who have narcissistic personality disorder believe they are better than others, they often struggle to take criticism or accept negative feedback. This can cause a multitude of other behaviors and difficulties, such as:


  • 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.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Addiction

People with NPD have an increased risk of substance abuse as well. Not only do people self-medicate to cope with their symptoms, but many narcissists simply believe that they are immune to addiction.

They believe they can drink and use drugs as freely as they want without any of the consequences that other people experience.

While there is no particular drug that narcissists turn to, many people who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to favor substances including:


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

narcissistic personality disorder and addiction

When someone has NPD, it can be difficult to identify when they’ve developed an addiction. People who struggle with narcissistic behaviors are often incapable of admitting when something is wrong, or if they need help. Instead, they believe they can figure it out on their own and hide any signs of weakness or vulnerability.

However, substance abuse can be very dangerous for people with narcissistic personality disorder. Because they aren’t concerned about the potential consequences, and there’s nothing holding them back from abusing drugs or alcohol on a daily basis. Not only is addiction a possible threat, but they’re also at an increased risk of overdosing, especially to prove a point about how much they can consume.

Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD is treatable but it isn’t necessarily easy. Because people have unrealistic beliefs about themselves compared to those around them, they often think that they don’t have a problem or that standard treatment will be ineffective for them.

Individual therapy is the focus of narcissistic personality disorder treatment. Talk therapy is often effective because it allows behavioral changes to happen gradually over a period of time.

Over the course of several sessions, the person will start to uncover their narcissistic issues and recognize their behavior to the point where they can’t deny it. This can help narcissists realize they must accept help, and that they need to reevaluate their perception of themselves in relation to the world around them.

For someone who is struggling with both narcissistic personality disorder and addiction, dual-diagnosis treatment can address both conditions.

At Nexus Recovery, we treat dual-diagnosis clients using a range of modalities including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices

All of our clients receive personalized treatment programs that are designed to meet their specific needs and goals. We offer a Partial Hospitalization Program, Intensive Outpatient, and Outpatient Program that offer evidence-based programming and holistic approaches. Clients can also choose to enroll in a gender-specific recovery program.

If you or someone you love is struggling with narcissistic personality disorder and/or addiction, help is available. Our team at Nexus Recovery is comprised of counselors, physicians, and staff who specialize in addiction, mental health conditions, co-occurring disorders, and recovery. Our goal is to give clients the tools and support they need to achieve lasting sobriety and live a healthier and happier life.

Call us at (310) 881-9151 to speak with a member of our recovery advisors.

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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