Narcissism often affects women. Symptoms often start in the teenage years, though some may develop this personality disorder during early adulthood. Below we are going to inform you if drug addiction can cause narcissism.
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What is Narcissism?
Formally known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, this condition is earmarked by a person’s increased sense of importance. It also comes with a lack of empathy and an extra need for admiration and attention, thus resulting in the formation of problematic relationships.
What Causes Narcissism?
Experts cite 3 factors that could lead to narcissism:
- Neurobiology, or the way the brain is connected with thinking and behavior
- Genetics, or the characteristics inherited from parents
- Environment, where the child’s experience is influenced in parent-child relationships that involve excessive adoration or criticism
Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the severity of the condition, a narcissist may exhibit the following manifestations:
- A tendency to exaggerate talents and accomplishments
- Desire to be recognized superior even without the lack of achievements
- Preoccupation with the fantasies of power, brilliance, success, or beauty
- Belief in superiority, so much so that they only interact with certain individuals
- Monopoly of conversations
- Looks down on people they believe to be inferior
- Expects favor and compliance with all their requests
- Takes advantage of some people to get what they want
- Inability to recognize the feelings of others
- Envious of others/thinks other people are envious of them
- Arrogance, haughtiness, or conceit
- Insistence of getting the best in everything (i.e. prime office spot)
Narcissism often leads to relationship problems, work/school difficulties, and other physical health problems.
Unfortunately, this can lead to other mental conditions as well. Narcissists tend to develop anxiety, depression, even suicidal behavior. Worse, this is often linked with alcohol or drug abuse.
Can Drug Addiction Cause Narcissism?
No. However, drug abuse can worsen a person’s narcissistic tendencies.
Narcissists often demonstrate destructive behaviors that prevent them from forming long-lasting relationships. They often feel worthless and alone, even if their actions suggest otherwise. This feeling of isolation may explain why about 40% of narcissists suffer from drug addiction. Depending on their thought processes, narcissists often choose to abuse alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, Valium, or Xanax.
Although narcissists are so proud of themselves, they often feel anger, shame, and helplessness. These opposing feelings bring about internal turmoil, which may lead them to resort to drugs. After all, these substances can bring comfort and relaxation.
Narcissists also have little concern about social judgment. This may prod them to take drugs since they don’t care about what other people say. And, for some that do, their recourse is to abuse more socially acceptable substances, i.e. marijuana over meth.
Since narcissists feel the need to maintain a successful appearance, they may be tempted to take drugs that allow them to do so. This is the main drive behind people who use stimulants, since cocaine, ecstasy, and Ritalin can help boost their performance.
The Risks of Being an Addicted Narcissist
While narcissism in itself is not dangerous, this – together with drug addiction – can lead to a particularly volatile personality.
When narcissists get addicted to stimulants such as ecstasy and cocaine, they often develop more severe mood disturbances and violent tendencies. The same events can happen with the use of Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, for they too help promote aggression.
Sadly, narcissists who use drugs can suffer from the following:
- Criminal problems (prolonged stay in prison)
- Financial problems
- Interpersonal or Domestic violence
- Suicidal behavior
They are also more likely to develop heart problems and digestive disorders. To make matters worse, addicted narcissists may also be resistant to treatment or hospitalization.
Vulnerable narcissism, which is characterized by self-absorbedness, may also lead to drug relapse if left untreated. According to a study, people with a high sensitivity to humiliation are more likely to abuse substances repeatedly.
Another study has shown that grandiose narcissism – marked by superiority and entitlement – is linked with substance abuse, especially that of alcohol. The same is said with pathological narcissism, which is a combination of both vulnerable and grandiose narcissism. Found in both drug and alcohol users, this condition can make a person more likely to exhibit entitlement rage, self-hiding, and devaluing.
Treatment for Narcissism
Since narcissism can contribute to addiction – even worsen it – immediate treatment is warranted for such individuals.
The primary treatment is talk therapy, which is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment. Here, narcissists are taught to relate better to people so they can develop rewarding and intimate relationships. They are also taught the causes of their emotions – and what may drive them to compete or distrust other individuals.
With these changes, a narcissist may be able to:
- Maintain good relationships and collaborative efforts
- Recognize his/her own competence so he/she can accept limitations
- Improve one’s ability to understand feelings
- Understand the issues that affect self-esteem
- Accept the things that can actually be attained/accomplished
Although there are no medications specifically designed for narcissism, the individual may be given anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs for co-occurring conditions.
How to Manage Your Narcissism
Apart from seeking professional help, treatment may be more effective you follow these tips:
- Keep an open mind and be receptive to treatment.
- Adhere to your treatment schedule. Go to talk therapy and take any medications as prescribed.
- Stay focused. Remind yourself that these interventions can help you achieve a more contented life.
Most importantly, you should get your drug addiction treated alongside your narcissism. The latter can lead to the former – and vice versa – which can lead to a cycle of unhealthy behaviors.
Although drug addiction does not cause narcissism, it can worsen this condition. Narcissistic addicts often turn out to be more violent and aggressive. Such make them more likely to have run-ins with the law. At the same time, they have a higher chance of developing heart and digestive problems as well.
Given the effects of both narcissism and drug abuse, immediate treatment is warranted. With the help of talk therapy, concurrent addiction treatment, and medications (as needed), the symptoms of both disorders may be minimized, if not eliminated.