The trait of self-centeredness has long been linked to addiction. When going through a recovery program, addicts often confirm this fact through their stories. This self-centeredness can reappear in addicts during the recovery process as well.
If an addict starts to show signs of self-centeredness during recovery, it can be an early warning sign that the recovery process is going off-track.
What Exactly is Self-Centeredness
Self-centeredness is a term thrown around a lot in today’s world. Constant use of the term has caused its meaning to become blurred. It might help to clearly define its meaning before discussing the relationship between self-centeredness and addiction.
A self-centered person may also be referred to as self-absorbed, egocentric, self-serving, and selfish. All these terms describe someone who has an intense focus on their own needs, wants, and feelings. This leads to a lack of consideration for other people. The only role of others, in the eyes of a selfish person, is to meet their needs.
When a self-centered person uses the people around them solely to serve their own needs, it can lead to the others feeling used and hurt. In the case of addiction, the addiction starts to replace the loved ones in an addict’s life. This obsession with their substance of choice grows until the people around them eventually feel abandoned completely.
Getting high, or finding their next score, starts to become the addict’s only focus. Users may even start to remove themselves from family activities, and stop contributing to their relationships entirely, in pursuit of their “fix”.
Disorders Affecting Self-Centeredness
While it’s true that self-centeredness and addiction often go hand-in-hand, self-centeredness can sometimes have other causes. In fact, self-centeredness is a symptom of several psychological disorders:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: Individuals suffering from this choose behaviors that are gratifying to them no matter what pain they cause others. These behaviors typically involve violating the rights of others or criminal behavior. Sufferers of this disorder will lie, manipulate, and deceive others for their own gain.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: This particular disorder is less about criminal behavior and more about a person’s feelings towards others. People suffering from this disorder feel they are better than others. They also experience feelings of entitlement; a need for others’ admiration; and a need to constantly make things about themselves.
Anxiety and depression can also lead to selfish behavior. Depression can cause a person to withdraw and isolate from family and friends. They become so worried about their own feelings it becomes impossible to consider anyone else. And certain forms of anxiety can become so intense that a person may appear selfish or self-absorbed to their loved ones.
People with these types of issues may not necessarily have a substance abuse problem. But, it is often found that people suffering from these types of psychological disorders have a substance abuse issue as well.
If a person is dealing with a psychological disorder, as well as a substance abuse problem, they are said to have dual disorders or dual diagnoses. This can make the road to recovery more challenging as both disorders need to be treated simultaneously.
The Toll of Self-Centeredness
Self-centeredness can take a toll on every aspect of your life. The selfish individual, as well as the people around them, can all be affected by the self-absorbed behavior. It’s similar to a black hole in space. A person’s self-centered behavior can suck in the others around them, and they can be in too deep before they realize.
These costs of relationships and associations with self-centered individuals can manifest internally, or even result in dysfunctional behaviors. Business partnerships and other activities can also be affected by dealing with an association with a self-centered person.
Family dynamics can become particularly difficult. A self-centered family member may say and do hurtful things to get their way. Oftentimes, once these things are said the family can’t be recovered. This can lead to estrangement from the family. If the behaviors are allowed to go on then they could escalate into dysfunctional power dynamics within the relationship or even outright abuse.
Selfish individuals may act irrationally if they feel they have been wronged or slighted. They struggle with relationships because they struggle to value the opinions of others. This leads to feelings of loneliness because selfish people feel they are better than everyone. If you think you’re better than everyone around you long enough, it becomes easier to not associate with them.
Behaviors of self-centered people often affect others, but they can affect themselves as well. Selfish people will often self-sabotage their own goals and desires because they can’t work together with other people. This dynamic can lead to some very difficult work relationships.
Self-Centeredness and Addiction
The unpredictability of addiction is what makes it so challenging. There is no set formula or timeline for when symptoms will emerge. Oftentimes, multiple symptoms emerge simultaneously. Even worse, the addict may not notice a difference and when family members bring it to their attention it may push them even further away.
Self-centeredness is one of the most common symptoms of addiction. It shows up in relationships and associations of all types if the addictive process goes untreated.
Since addiction is really an obsession with a particular substance, the addictive process always contains elements of obsession and compulsion. Addicts become obsessed with the substance of their choice, and block everything else out in an effort to stay high. The compulsive behavior comes in the form of using.
As a result of this cycle of obsession and compulsion, the addict’s world becomes a self-centered bubble where there isn’t room for much else besides the addict and their drug of choice.
Self-centeredness and addiction can be a powerful combination. The road to recovery will be challenging. Recovery counseling or recovery programs (i.e. 12-step programs) can go a long way in leading to recovery.
Part of the counseling within these programs will help users overcome the damaging and dysfunctional behaviors they show in social situations. In sticking to a recovery program, addicts will learn to no longer self-sabotage when it comes to family, friends, and other mutually beneficial relationships.
Going through withdrawal and detox will help to rid the user of any obsession with their substance of choice. Eventually, after withdrawal and detox, abstinence is reached. Once an addict is completely sober, work can begin on correcting the thought patters that brought them to this point. These thoughts are then replaced with a healthier lifestyle moving forward.
For information on symptoms of addiction, like self-centeredness, contact us at Just Believe Recovery Center. We can also provide resources on dual diagnoses, or answer any other questions you may have.