3 MIN READ | Clinical Psychology

Tommy Williamson

Is Being an Addicted Parent a Symptom of Narcissism?

Cite This
Tommy Williamson, (2022, April 15). Is Being an Addicted Parent a Symptom of Narcissism?. Psychreg on Clinical Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/being-addicted-parent-symptom-narcissism/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Narcissism has a lot of similarities to addiction. It can cause people to develop inclinations that can lead to addictive behaviours. People who are struggling with narcissism are more likely to engage in more frequent drug use, including alcohol dependence, and other types of addiction, like sexual addiction and internet addiction.

However, simply having an addiction does not automatically make your parents a narcissist. Let’s look into what is narcissism: 

Defining narcissism

It restricts people’s perception of how they see the world and causes them to become excessively self-centred in their perspective. Narcissism is a personality trait that affects a person’s perception of others too.

It can be difficult for someone who exhibits this tendency to comprehend that they’re not alone in the world, says the United Recovery Project in Laguna Hills California. It happens when a person’s rejection of their own individuality is combined with an incapacity to connect to other people and a sense of self-sufficiency and single-mindedness.

If you have a parent who has a predisposition to narcissism, they may find family therapy helpful, allowing them to have a full life and have a satisfying relationship.

Looking into the signs of narcissism

Here are some signs that the practitioners look for:

  •     Has a cynical outlook toward critique and therefore only finds enjoyment when complimented and recognized as ‘special’
  •     Commercial motives, rather than spiritual principles, guide decisions
  •     Demonstrates narcissistic characteristics, where they believe they are better than others
  •     Despite their pleasant demeanour and charm, the individual is solely interested in manipulating others to advance their own goals.
  •     Believe they should receive preferential treatment and benefits without needing to earn them
  •     Always seeking external approval and a need to become the focus of attention

Link between drug use and narcissistic traits

There are many similarities between those with narcissistic traits and those who struggle with addiction, for example, your parent may struggle with:

  •     Not being able to see the consequences of one’s actions
  •     Lack of compassion
  •     Lack of compassion feelings of grandeur
  •     Difficulties with shifting or low self-esteem
  •     Defensive tactics to deflect criticism

There’s a strong correlation between narcissism and substance abuse disorder. A study published in 2019 examines the link between narcissism and substance use, indicating that a person’s self-esteem has a key role. Low or fluctuating self-esteem can contribute to using booze, narcotics, or other addictive activities as a means of affirmation.

The researchers also mention that grandiose narcissism plays a role in a variety of other addictions. The condition might cause the person to feel intense emotions of shame.

The individual subsequently seeks out addictive drugs to help them cope with their feelings, which leads to greater shame and other negative emotions.

Poor self-esteem that necessitates external validation may raise the chance of developing a substance abuse problem. Lack of compassion for others and beliefs of invulnerability enable individuals to continue abusing drugs regardless of the obvious harm they bring to themselves and those around them.

Narcotics may be used by people struggling with narcissism to establish a sense of superiority over other people while also reducing the feeling of inadequacy that shifting self-esteem may bring.

Treatment options if your parent is struggling with addiction

Drug addiction and narcissism can be comorbid or co-occur. The best approach is to manage both illnesses at the same time. Here is what may help

Family therapy for addiction

Family therapy seems to bring some clarity to relationships and, if members of the family want it, it facilitates restoration and togetherness. Family therapists think that issues arise between people rather than within them.

Family therapists discuss with the families how drug addiction might be rooted in a loop of interactions within the family. Many adults and parents, for instance, are caught in an investigative/fugitive dynamic.

The more a young person behaves like a fugitive (concealing, lying), the more the parent behaves like an investigator (snooping, pursuing) and vice versa.  Furthermore, therapists could provide further substance abuse education to the entire family and assist family members in lowering unhelpful behaviours and boosting helpful behaviours.

Summary

  • Narcissism has a lot of similarities to addiction. It can cause people to develop inclinations that can lead to addictive behaviours.
  • People who are struggling with narcissism are more likely to engage in more frequent drug use. However, if your parents are struggling with addiction, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are narcissists.
  • Poor self-esteem that necessitates external validation may raise the chance of developing a substance abuse problem.
  • Lack of compassion for others and beliefs of invulnerability enable individuals to continue abusing drugs regardless of the obvious harm.
  • Family therapy seems to bring some clarity to the relationships and, if members of the family want, it facilitates restoration and togetherness and discusses with the families how drug addiction might be rooted in family interaction

Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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