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page title icon Doctor explains the relationship between narcissistic personality disorder and alcoholism

A common and often overlooked reason for substance abuse relapse is an underlying undiagnosed mental health condition.

New research and data are showing that to successfully beat substance abuse disorders, doctors and patients alike have to focus first on treating undiagnosed underlying health conditions.

One of the most serious and untreated mental health conditions, that can cause harm for substance abuse users, is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Narcissistic personality and alcoholism

How does alcohol affect Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

  • People with NPD are more likely to be self-centered and almost always seek to be the center of social situations. As such, people with NPD are more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • People with NPD are more likely to use alcohol to help become the center of attention. This attention-seeking behavior can lead to addiction.

If the clinician or patient misses the underlying NPD diagnosis, the person will continue to relapse.

The big picture: Alcoholism is not a simple disease. It’s a complex and chronic condition. It’s very important to keep in mind that if undiagnosed conditions/issues are interfering with recovery, relapse is very probable.

The doctor’s main point:

  • When treating alcoholism it’s important to look at all aspects of a person’s life. It’s not enough to tell someone to “just stop drinking.”
  • Because of the complexity of alcoholism, factors such as genetics, economics, undiagnosed mental health conditions can adversely affect outcomes. It can take a person several attempts to fully overcome a substance abuse disorder.

What are your Next Steps:

Get tested:

There are screening tests you can fill out at home to help see if you may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder or alcoholism.

Remember and Keep in mind: Screening tests do not diagnose you with a medical condition. Screening tests help you and your health care team start the conversation.

Talk to your Doctor or Healthcare Team: Let them know that you’ve taken the CAGE or NPD test & would like to discuss the results in the context of your substance abuse treatment.

Treatment of NPD consists of cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and medications.

  1. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health condition or a substances abuse disorder call SAMHSA.
    1. 800-662-HELP (4357)
    2. 800-487-4889

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Written by Doctors

Content Reviewed by Dr. Puja