Cheers! Alcohol and the Narcissist


Alcohol is a pervasive drug. A Bloody Mary prior to lunch, a liquid lunch to conduct business, afternoon drinks because it feels like skipping school, drinks straight from work which turn into a session, celebratory drinks for a birthday, a deal done well, an anniversary or just because it is Friday. Drinks at the golf club, prior to the big game, at the BBQ, at the funeral wake, a night cap, a toast, a cheeky snifter before heading home, one for the road, a hair of the dog to shift the hangover. Drink is everywhere and is deemed socially acceptable despite the misery that its excessive consumption causes.

What part does alcohol play in the narcissist dynamic? I do not mean the occasional drink with an excellent meal or the social beers in a bar with friends, the regulated and moderate drinking which does not bring with it problems. I am referring to alcoholism, where there is a reliance and a dependence on alcohol. How does that factor into the narcissistic dynamic?

At the outset it is necessary to distinguish between the alcoholic who is a not a narcissist and the narcissist who is an alcoholic. This is important because narcissism and alcoholism actually share similar traits.

–         There is the deceit that is involved in engaging in excessive drinking and engaging in narcissistic behaviour;

–         Both have sufferers who lack any insight that they have a problem;

–         Both require the manipulation of other people to achieve their aim. The narcissist manipulates to gain fuel, the alcoholic manipulates to drink.

–         Both engage in telling lies on a repeated basis about what they have been doing, where they have been, how much they have had to drink, whether they have had a drink;

–         Both result in selfish behaviour;

–         Other people find themselves being put second on a repeated basis to the needs of either the narcissist or the alcoholic;

–         Both engage in switching behaviour, being pleasant and likeable one moment and then suddenly abusive; and

–         The pursuit of the end game (fuel/drink) becomes the sole concern of the relevant individual

Accordingly, the behaviours of the narcissist and the alcoholic appear most similar. The alcoholic may present with narcissistic traits (as described above) but a sober alcoholic will see those narcissistic traits fall away to reveal that he or she is an alcoholic but not a narcissist. The addition of alcohol to this individual causes them to become narcissistic but they are not a narcissist.

The narcissist however who is also an alcoholic may stop drinking but the narcissism will remain. Indeed, there are many occasions where a victim will realise that they are involved with an alcoholic but they will not realise that this person is actually a narcissist who is also an alcoholic since alcoholism is far more readily identifiable than narcissism.

Narcissism leads to alcoholism. Not in every instance. I am not an alcoholic. I like to drink, in fact I enjoy it very much and I can consume significant amounts but I do not become blind drunk because I do not want to lose control. I have seen the narcissist who is an alcoholic and that is my Uncle Robert. His aged frame and bitterness are a clear testament to the aging that comes with a lifetime of downing his first gin and tonic at 11am and not stopping until the stupor arrives sometime after 9pm. Watching him as I was younger, observing his behaviours arising from his drinking (and later understanding that this was a layer upon his rampant narcissism) this served as a useful warning to me to ensure that I used drink for my purposes and did not allow it to consume me. I am fortunate I have that self-control and discipline, since many of our kind do not.

Alcoholism is a symptom of a certain mind set and narcissism is a mindset which lends itself to alcoholism occurring. Narcissists are creatures of addiction. We are addicted primarily to fuel. This is our drug, but being this way also means that we have a susceptibility to other addictive behaviours. This is why we engage in taking recreational drugs, shop with complete disregard for the financial repercussions, engage in workaholism, gamble and drive like maniacs. Not all will be present but there is a propensity for our kind to engage in these kind of behaviour because of our vulnerability to addiction.

The traits of our narcissism lend themselves to fostering alcoholism. Not only are we prone to addictive behaviour per se, the existence of these traits means that we become even more vulnerable to alcoholism occurring.

  1. Our magical thinking, our sense of superiority and omnipotence means that we believe that we can deal with alcohol better than the “little people”. We can drink more, we can handle that drink better and we can drink all manner of different types.
  2. The broad range of types of alcohol, the rich and varied culture that accompanies appeals to us as we show off our knowledge about it. The Cerebral Narcissist can boast about his extensive knowledge about particular wines or whiskies. The Somatic can brag about how much he has spent on a magnum of champagne and the Elite will do both.
  3. Our hunting grounds for our victims invariably involve the consumption of alcohol. The Somatic Narcissist who find his prey in the night club and amidst the chrome and neon lights of upmarket bars is going to be exposed to alcohol repeatedly.
  4. Our lack of accountability means that we can drink when we want, with who we want, where we want and we do not suffer the consequences. We can drink at lunchtime before making a presentation and believe we are immune to any such repercussion. We will take the wheel of a car having consumed alcohol because the laws are not applicable to us. We will not suffer any downside from drinking, we are a super man and able to cope with the toxins we are pouring into our throats.
  5. The desire to be centre stage. The provision of alcohol acts (at first) as an accelerant to our grandiose behaviour, our sense of showing off and performance and therefore slugging it down as we hold court in a bar, show off with our dancing and engage in our flirtations all assist ensuring that we are at centre stage and remain there.
  6. Blame-Shifting One. You make us drink. If you did as we wanted you to, then we would not be forced to have to drink to numb ourselves from the tedium that you cause. If you loved us properly we would not embrace the bottle. It is your fault that we drink so much.
  7. Blame-Shifting Two. The repercussions and consequences of drinking are your fault as well. If you had not made me leave the car after I had been drinking, it would not have a got a ticket. The final warning, I received because I was drunk on the job was down to you making me go into work because we need the money (even though you begged me to stay at home). Our abusive behaviour to people when drunk is down to you making us that way. You should have stopped us.
  8. Refuge. The consumption of alcohol by our kind allows us to take refuge. The Mid-Ranger who is innocuous turns into a raging Elvis impersonator as his grandiosity soars through the repeated application of drink. Drinking allows our kind to become ebullient, impressive and charismatic as it bridges the gap between what we really are and what we want the world to see. Alcohol removes the shackles which this cruel world seeks to impose on us and allows us to be who we want to be and who we want the world to see. We are freed of the terror of rejection since nobody can resist us when we are buoyed by this alcoholic uplift. The whisperings of the Creature are silenced by the pouring of another glass. How marvellous alcohol is to allow us to be what we want to be and to take away all the other concerns, limitations and problems that plague us.
  9. Removal of the mask. The lower functioning of our kind find a sense of relief in no longing needing to adopt a mask but rather allow the mask of alcohol and drunkenness to enable them to show what they are really like without fearing for the repercussions of rejection and criticism.
  10. Alcohol is a fuel enabler. It allows our kind to become better and more brilliant and in turn gather the fuel with greater ease, whether this is through impressing someone with confident conversation, sparkling wit and repartee orthe descent into abusive behaviour as time wears on and the drink mounts up.

The fact that so many traits of ours are geared towards the consumption of alcohol and the fact that this consumption enables us to achieve our goals with greater apparent ease added to the fact that we have an inherent susceptibility towards addiction for the reason explained above, means that this cocktail increases considerably the risk that a narcissist will be an alcoholic.

5 thoughts on “Cheers! Alcohol and the Narcissist

  1. Dorion says:

    I always like these kinds of comparisons. First time I started wondering about my own manipulative and possibly narcissistic behaviors was definitely during a phase when I struggled with alcohol. Addiction by itself can mimic so many other disorders – I recall doing psychiatric assessments during that time just for myself, and I could have been diagnosed with a bunch of things. All of them mostly fell away when I finally beat the addiction and remained sober for a while, all except anxiety. So I very much agree. A narcissist who is also an alcoholic or drug addict on top is certainly in a very bad spiral and a dangerous individual. And, I imagine, they can have a higher tendency to remain in denial than someone without a personality disorder, so much more difficult to recover from anything.

  2. Dmd says:

    This makes sense to me. My only question is, what would an N be like when drinking beyond control. A greater for example, who engages in over indulgence of alcohol when showing off. Clearly, the mask slips. All the behaviors magnified. So wouldn’t the things that are typically better controlled, become out of control? The rage or underlying constant negative feelings, wouldn’t they get bigger when drunk? For someone who isn’t a narcissist let’s say, like myself. If I were upset and drank too much, there would come a point that upset wasn’t numbed but magnified. Doesn’t this happen to a narcissist when drunk?

    My N husband drank too much far too often. I did used to think he was an alcoholic or that it was because of drinking. I realize now alcohol wasn’t the issue even though it was an issue also. But even when seemingly out of control drunk (words slurred beyond recognition, falling down etc) he was still pleasant or not violent in public (although he would have tried to argue or fight someone if they crossed him on occasion) he would get that way behind closed doors. So I see alcohol was his excuse. If he were really out of control he wouldn’t have been that way in public also. So you mean even beyond drunk, an N can control themselves most of the time?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It will depend on the school of the narcissist and the particular context of the occasion of drunkedness.

  3. Gwyneth says:

    I was with a man for three years. I had seen things that made me wonder if he was a narc but I wasn’t sure. He admitted he had a problem w alcohol bc of his tragic life (blah blah blah) and said he’d go to rehab. He did. After a month, came back and started daily AA meetings. I thought he was cured of whatever was wrong with our relationship before. He talked about emotions, was honest and accountable and kind. Apologized for past behavior. After supporting him and his recovery for almost a year (and falling completely in love bc I thought he was a good man), I found out he had been cheating on me with a girl in AA for months. And just as awful, he had never told anyone in AA that he had a girlfriend. He shared his story hundreds of times, but never once mentioned me. He didn’t have a girlfriend with his AA circle… so he could do whatever he wanted and they wouldn’t know how toxic he was. When I exposed him to his new girlfriend and his sponsor, neither of them cared at all. How could I have been so stupid? Of course he must have prepared them for the possibility of a psycho girl claiming things and I played right into his hands. Then, he filed a lawsuit against me for $150,000 for defamation. Because I told his new girlfriend that he had been dating me for the first 6 mo of their relationship. Gee, I wonder if quitting alcohol had really changed him? Haha. Crazy… he’s still with her and playing the AA game 3 years later. It might be worth discussing what a PERFECT hunting ground AA is for narcissists. I mean PERFECT. They tell their story, however they want, make themselves sound sympathetic and heroic. People praise them. There are plenty of new vulnerable women and men coming in the door on a daily basis. And it’s anonymous! Nobody knows what he’s up to in there and he can say it’s part of the program. He can even live multiple lives within AA. My ex would go to meetings all over the city and meet completely different people. Plus he traveled for work. Going to an AA meeting in a new city was certainly the way he picked up the one night stands he used to meet at hotel bars. After what happened to me, I really wondered why AA doesn’t recognize this and do more to protect new members. I have several friends who have been the victims upon starting a recovery program. It’s the unspoken “13th step” but there is really no way to stop it. Til then I feel like it’s a worst kept secret for narcs and narc alcoholics…

    1. blackcoffee30 says:

      I agree about the 13th step. I’m lucky. My first meeting several old timers who were old men told me to go to a women’s meeting immediately! They were adamant. I did. The women told me about the 13th step. Moreover, I’m sober. 😃

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