The medical condition of narcissism is known as a narcissistic personality disorder, which refers to a set of character traits that reflect an inflated sense of self-importance. Someone with NPD will have a grandiose degree of self-confidence and believe they are superior to others. Such people may be preoccupied with their impression of others or feel entitled to special treatment.
Narcissists generally regard themselves as unique and better than others in many ways (e.g., more beautiful, intelligent, or trustworthy). As a result, their thoughts and opinions carry more weight than those of other people.
They may thus expect preferential treatment from others and show intolerance when this is not forthcoming. Narcissists can also be vain about their appearance and sensitive to any signs of disrespect or criticism. This grandiose sense of self-importance allows them to justify their emotionally exploitative behaviors easily.
What are Addictions?
Addiction is currently defined as “repeated use of a substance or repeated engagement in activity despite ongoing negative consequences.” In order to be diagnosed with an addiction, an individual must continue engaging in the behavior despite negative consequences, the risk of those consequences occurring, and difficulty limiting participation in said behavior(s).
These behaviors can contribute to mental illness if left untreated or undiagnosed and untreated and can often lead to multiple other issues such as depression and anxiety. The most common addictions are alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, sexual addiction, food addiction, etc.
What do Narcissism and Addiction Have in Common?
Many people who have narcissistic personality disorder also struggle with one or more addictive disorders as well. Those with NPD may be much more likely to develop an addiction than those without disorders of this nature. It is estimated that 70 percent of individuals with narcissistic personality traits suffered from an alcohol use disorder and 50 percent had a history of substance abuse.
It has been suggested that narcissists use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the feelings of emptiness they experience or use alcohol and drugs to serve as a form of self-medication.
Narcissism is also associated with gambling addiction, a condition in which a person continues to gamble despite negative consequences such as an inability to pay debts, negatively impacting their relationships, etc.
It has been suggested that some individuals become addicted to gambling due to the rush they experience from playing games such as poker, blackjack, etc.; the more risk involved, the greater their adrenaline levels are pumped – resulting in further addictions. In many cases of pathological gambling, the behavior stems from underlying mental health conditions, including anxiety disorder and depression.
Addictions are not limited to drugs and alcohol use; many behaviors can become addictive, such as sex, food intake, etc. While those with narcissistic personality disorder have been considered to be more likely than others to develop an addiction or multiple addictions, there is no evidence to suggest that individuals who struggle with NPD are somehow “more likely” than others to develop an addiction. Therefore, this correlation should not be taken as fact but should serve as a reminder of the dangers of substance abuse and other potentially addictive behaviors.