High Functioning Alcoholic Narcissist
High Functioning Alcoholic Narcissist

The high functioning alcoholic narcissist is a complex and challenging personality combination that requires a deep understanding in order to provide effective support and guidance.

In this article, we will explore the intricate nature of narcissism and alcoholism, examine how they intersect, and delve into the recognition and management of high functioning alcoholic narcissists. By comprehending the nuances of this dual diagnosis, we can empower individuals and their loved ones to navigate these challenges with greater insight and efficacy.

Understanding Narcissism and Alcoholism

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a personality disorder known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It is characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.

Individuals with NPD often exhibit grandiose behaviors, believing they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment. They may manipulate others to meet their needs, lack empathy, and have difficulty handling criticism or accepting responsibility for their actions.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a chronic condition characterized by the compulsive and uncontrollable consumption of alcohol, despite negative consequences.

People with AUD have a strong craving for alcohol, difficulty controlling their drinking, and experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or reduce consumption. Alcoholism negatively impacts various aspects of their lives, including their physical health, mental well-being, and relationships.

The Intersection of Narcissism and Alcoholism

Narcissism and alcoholism can intersect in complex ways. Some individuals with narcissistic traits may turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism to boost their self-image, alleviate feelings of insecurity, or escape from the demands of their grandiose persona.

Alcohol can provide temporary relief from their emotional vulnerabilities and enhance their self-perception. Conversely, alcohol abuse can exacerbate narcissistic tendencies, amplifying the individual’s self-centeredness, impulsivity, and disregard for others.

Recognizing the High Functioning Alcoholic Narcissist

What Is the High Functioning Alcoholic?

A high functioning alcoholic is an individual who maintains a facade of success and competence while struggling with alcoholism.

Despite their alcohol-related problems, they excel in their professional lives and often present a polished and accomplished image to the outside world. This outward success makes it challenging to identify their underlying alcohol misuse and narcissistic traits.

Identifying the High Functioning Alcoholic

Recognizing a high functioning alcoholic requires looking beyond their outward appearance. While they may seem to have their life together, certain signs and behaviors can indicate their struggle with alcoholism.

These individuals often display mood swings, experience difficulties with relationships, and exhibit a persistent need for attention. They may engage in avoidant behavior, deflecting responsibility for their actions, and become defensive or hostile when confronted about their drinking habits.

Identifying Narcissistic Traits in High Functioning Alcoholics

In addition to their alcohol misuse, high functioning alcoholic narcissists display distinct narcissistic traits. They have an inflated sense of self-importance, believing they are exceptional and deserving of special treatment. They constantly seek admiration and validation, often manipulating situations and people to maintain control and admiration.

Empathy for others may be lacking, as they prioritize their own needs and desires above all else. Recognizing these narcissistic traits is crucial for understanding the complexity of their condition.

Challenges in Recognizing the Dual Diagnosis

Identifying the dual diagnosis of high functioning alcoholism and narcissism can be challenging due to the deceptive nature of these individuals. Their ability to present a false image of success and competence masks their struggle with alcoholism.

Additionally, their narcissistic tendencies enable them to manipulate and hide their alcohol misuse, making it difficult for friends, family, and even professionals to recognize and address the underlying issues.

The Impact of High Functioning Alcoholism and Narcissism

Understanding the profound impact of high functioning alcoholism and narcissism is crucial for addressing the consequences faced by individuals with this dual diagnosis.

Personal Consequences

High functioning alcoholic narcissists experience a range of personal consequences. Their relationships, both familial and social, suffer as their behaviors and attitudes strain connections.

The emotional and psychological toll can be significant, leading to feelings of isolation, insecurity, and a diminished sense of well-being. They may struggle with maintaining genuine and meaningful connections due to their self-centeredness and manipulation.

Professional Consequences

In the professional realm, high functioning alcoholic narcissists may initially excel, but their condition eventually takes a toll on their work performance.

Difficulties arise as their drinking habits interfere with their ability to fulfill responsibilities, maintain professional relationships, and make sound decisions. Their reputation may suffer as their behaviors become increasingly unpredictable and their alcohol-related problems come to light.

Social Consequences

High functioning alcoholic narcissists often face social consequences as well. Their self-centeredness and manipulative tendencies strain relationships, leading to isolation and alienation from social circles.

Their destructive behavior, combined with their constant need for attention and admiration, often results in a lack of genuine connections and an overall negative impact on the communities they are part of.

Approaches to Dealing with High Functioning Alcoholic Narcissists

Addressing the complexities of high functioning alcoholic narcissists requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses intervention, treatment, and support.

Intervention and Treatment Options

Interventions play a vital role in motivating high functioning alcoholic narcissists to seek help. Professional interventions, conducted by trained specialists, facilitate open and honest communication, breaking through the denial and resistance often associated with their condition.

Once individuals are receptive to treatment, various therapeutic techniques and strategies can be employed to address both the alcoholism and narcissistic traits concurrently.

Addressing the Underlying Issues

To effectively assist high functioning alcoholic narcissists, it is crucial to identify and address the underlying issues contributing to their condition. This involves exploring past traumas, examining distorted beliefs and self-perceptions, and promoting self-reflection and personal growth.

By delving into these root causes, individuals can develop healthier coping mechanisms, strengthen their self-esteem, and work towards positive behavioral changes.

Support for Family and Friends

Family and friends of high functioning alcoholic narcissists also require support as they navigate the challenges associated with their loved one’s condition.

Coping mechanisms, such as setting boundaries, seeking therapy, and participating in support groups, can help individuals better understand and cope with the complexities of the dual diagnosis.

Providing resources and guidance to those affected helps them maintain their own mental health and well-being while supporting their loved ones on the path to recovery.


Understanding the high functioning alcoholic narcissist necessitates a comprehensive examination of both narcissism and alcoholism. By recognizing the unique challenges and consequences faced by individuals with this dual diagnosis, we can offer effective support and intervention.

Addressing the underlying issues, implementing appropriate treatment options, and providing support to both the individual and their loved ones are paramount in striving towards positive outcomes and a path to healing and self-improvement.

Remember, seeking professional help from substance misuse services and mental health professionals is crucial in assisting high functioning alcoholic narcissists on their journey to recovery.