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  • Lynn Catalano

Narcissistic Addiction

People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and people who have addictive personalities share many similarities.   Much research has been done but I believe it’s a weird combination of their lack of empathy, the way they use people for their own benefit, and their excessive need to win every competition. It is believed that narcissism may lead to tendencies in people that can encourage addictive behaviors.

Here are some of the similarities between narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and addiction:


  • Entitled

  • Prone to rage

  • Poor emotional regulation

  • Manipulative

  • Unable to exhibit empathy

  • Relationships are transactional 

  • High-conflict people

  • Poor decision-making skills

  • Not capable of holding a job

  • Have enablers in their life


Is there a link to obsessive behaviors which include addiction?


Narcissists share those obsessive personality traits with people with addictive personalities.  While writing my book, I interviewed many people who had relationships with significant others who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder.  So many of these people also had substance abuse addictions, gambling, and sex addictions.

Research has shown the link between people who suffer from NPD and addictions centers on self-esteem or their lack thereof. They use their addictions as a source of validation. The other glaring shared trait of the 2 groups is their inability to see the consequences of their actions.


I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”  

“Jessica now realizes he frequently gaslit her or the kids. After her father passed away, he would say she changed. He said she was difficult to live with since losing her father. He was a gambling addict, a serial cheater, and a narcissist. She never communicated this to their children. They discovered his true nature all on their own.

Once, he explained to their son, he didn’t actually have a gambling problem. He lied, telling him Jessica misguided the children about their finances. It wasn’t due to his frequent casino visits; it was because Jessica constantly bought clothes and shoes for the kids. The son was confused. His only pair of sneakers were frayed and worn until they had holes. Only then did Jessica buy him another pair. That conversation resulted in him losing the relationship with their son. He told Jessica her spending did so much damage to their finances he was contemplating suicide. Everything was her fault.”


It’s not just about substance addiction, narcissists can have other obsessive addictive behaviors

  • gambling

  • social media use

  • smartphone use

  • compulsive shopping

  • compulsive working

  • pornography

  • sex addiction

My narcissistic father was addicted to politics, helping in the community and anything that gave him a spotlight or stage. He loved the constant narcissistic supply it gave him.  After his political career ended, he turned his attention to community service, also in an obsessive manner.  He once told me that when he goes on the board of a not-for-profit, his only goal was to become the Chairman of the Board.  Otherwise, why bother being involved?  Wow. I only serve organizations where I believe in their mission.


Narcissists are always craving new supply and more recognition more envy and admiration.  The cravings of an addict are similar.  They are both always chasing their next high. 


Is narcissism an addiction itself?

In a study “Narcissism as Addiction to Esteem,” Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs argued that narcissism is, in fact, more like an addiction than a life-long personality trait. They applied the cycle of addiction—cravings, increasing tolerance, and withdrawal—to narcissism and found that “craving to feel superior and the indulgence of those cravings may be the defining feature of narcissism,” and narcissists appear to be “constantly on the lookout for new and greater triumphs that bring them greater glory.”



If you are in a relationship with someone struggling with both addiction and NPD, there isn’t great news. These people may be able to overcome the addiction but overcoming NPD means they will have to be self-aware. This is something most lack. They will never say “Is it me? Am I the problem?” Stop waiting for closure.  They can’t change.  You need to. This is why it’s so critical for you to talk to someone. 


This hurt will bleed into other aspects of your life until you work through it. You need to talk to someone. But not just anyone. Someone who gets it. I get it.


You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. 


Often, we stay in these cycles of abuse because we don’t believe we deserve something better. I kept trying to make our relationship work, but he didn’t want me in his life. It took me a long time to understand that I deserved better.


You deserve better, too.


If you’re ready to change how you think,

If you’re ready to change how you feel,

If you’re ready to change your path,



You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon,, and






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