A major factor that comes up when someone is dealing with an addiction is the tendency for them to become overly self-centered. An addict's main focus is getting everyone around them to meet their needs or cater to them especially within their family life. Families frequently have to deal with covering up an addict's behavior and taking care of them rather than attending to their own needs which are often ignored.
A person with an addiction is virtually incapable of caring for others because they are so consumed with the need to keep using and everything in their life revolves around their addiction. The characteristics of a person who is deep into their addiction can actually closely mirror those of narcissism- a personality problem that makes relationships problematic and difficult to maintain.
Traits of a Narcissist and an Addict
Someone who can be identified as a narcissist tends to view other people as extensions of themselves rather than a separate person. They want people around who can boost their ego, meet their needs and maintain the vision they have of themselves.
Someone who has their own point of view or opinions that differ strongly from theirs will seem like a threat to a narcissist. They are usually so absorbed in themselves that they are totally unaware or simply indifferent to the needs of the people around them.
This characteristic is also true of people with addictions because their overwhelming desire to get their next fix of their drug of choice trumps everything else in their life. They are only motivated to gratify their own needs and often ignore the ones of those closest to them making their behavior very similar to that of a narcissist.
In a sense, addiction can create narcissism in an individual because they lose touch with the outside world and become wrapped up in their own selfish cycle of indulgence. Although a narcissist may seem pleasantly oblivious to other people's problems, their own lives actually become very empty and lonely because of their inability to connect with others.
Staying Away from Self-Absorption for Recovery
As an addict enters recovery they need to learn how to consider the needs of others and also take care of themselves in a healthy and non-narcissistic way. Healthy self-care does not mean gratifying your needs through substances but rather doing things that are objectively good for you.
In rehab, addicts can finally learn the difference between engaging in self-absorbed indulgence and truly taking care of themselves in a healthy way. Most importantly, an addict can get out of their narcissistic tendencies by listening to other people and connecting with them on a deeper level.
Recognizing their own self-centeredness and making a conscious effort to care for others can help them get out of the lonely world they used to inhabit. Within every person there is a deep, biological need to be close to others and feel a part of a group. When someone with an addiction learns how to better relate to others they start to let go of the kind of behavior that kept them in an unhealthy cycle.
In recovery an addict can learn how to maintain their own sense of self but also be open to people having different opinions or other viewpoints that are still valid. Being secure in yourself but also being open-minded and understanding toward others is the best way to maintain healthy relationships.
Addicts need to learn how to hear what other people's needs are, develop true empathy for those around them and serve others in the best way that they can. A person who is working hard toward recovery can eliminate any trace of narcissism that may have developed during their addiction.
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