Damaging Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Narcissist
Which came first, your loved one’s alcoholism, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)? Does it matter? These co-occurring disorders essentially turn someone you once thought of as Prince or Princess Charming into a vampire, and not the fun kind full of sexy adventure and immortality. It’s emotionally draining living with and trying to love an alcoholic narcissist.
Symptoms of an Alcoholic Narcissist
Narcissism and alcoholism bear many of the same characteristics, including:
- Continuously engaging in the behavior, despite ruining relationships and finances
- Denying there’s a problem
- Shifting blame to you and guilt-tripping
- Volatile, erratic mood swings
- Physical withdrawal pains or emotional distress
Together, these disorders create a recipe for toxicity, in which everyone closest to the addict suffers the effects.
Co-Dependency and Control
Chances are, you had little to no idea about your loved one’s alcohol addiction and narcissistic personality when you first met. It’s a common start to their relationships, establishing a false sense of trust in order to gain control over someone. Power is a core element of both of these afflictions, as he or she needs it to mask the fears, insecurities, and perhaps even traumas they adamantly suppress.
Of course, there are likely situations where others don’t see the alcoholic or narcissistic abuse, because the addict doesn’t deem them necessary to win over. They don’t care if glimpses of their true nature shine through because they lack the empathy to recognize what they’ve done wrong.
So while your instincts to help kick in, and you try to show him how his drinking affects others, he is still exerting the “not me” pathology. In the story he has carefully crafted, his disorders are beyond reproach. His usual response to your pleadings is to threaten to break up or leave.
A Vicious Cycle of Questioning Reality
Despite your presence, the alcoholic narcissist’s only real relationship is with himself and the booze. He uses drinking and exploitative manners to ironically stifle loneliness and self-esteem issues, and act as self-preservation mechanisms.
If he constantly makes you doubt your suspicions, responses, or ultimatums, welcome to the world of gas lighting. It’s a psychologically abusive tactic that breaks you down while empowers him.
Reclaim Your Selfishness and Strength
An alcoholic narcissist’s recovery is difficult because getting him to admit to anything may be nearly impossible. Even if he does seek therapy, he may still deny his illness. He feeds off of the attention received in therapy, and twists that into affirmations that he’s better and smarter than everyone else. By not addressing all root causes of this dual diagnosis, he continues to find ways to degrade, criticize, and weaken you.
It’s normal to be concerned about helping an alcoholic stop drinking, and for wanting that beautiful persona to come back full-time, but don’t neglect helping yourself. Even if he can commit to cognitive behavioral therapy and other components of a treatment plan, it’s time to demonstrate your own regard for self-care.
- Not appeasing his demands
- No longer believing that you’re at fault
- Understanding that he may never change, and you cannot force him to
- Not self-medicating to cope with your pain
- Seeking comprehensive therapy to address your co-dependency and rebuild self-worth
- Finding support systems
- Practicing yoga, meditation, or other soothing activities
Decide on what you can tolerate and accept, but don’t lose sight of the world around you, and be engulfed by this devastating dual illness.