Why isn’t there a 12-step program for narcissists?


…and I’m not talking about this either. 😉

A commenter on this post wondered why there aren’t any 12-step programs for people with NPD, and that got me thinking — well, why aren’t there?

About a month ago, my Facebook friend and I were having a conversation about this very same thing.

There’s a lot of good reasons why a 12-step program might be helpful to a narcissist. After all, narcissism and addictive disorders like alcoholism have a lot in common. This isn’t an idea I just dreamed up. Sam Vaknin also wrote about the similarities, as well as others like psychologist Tian Dayton.


Here’s a quick list of things both narcissists and people addicted to substances have in common:

1. They are often in denial about their disorder. When a narcissist or an addict realizes they have a disorder they may want to get help. (This is actually the first step of programs like AA or NA.)
2. In some ways, both addiction and narcissism is a choice, even if it was made unconsciously (although there is likely to be a genetic component too that at least gives one a predisposition toward these disorders).
3. The narcissist’s drug of choice is narcissistic supply, which gives the narcissist an adrenalin rush. When it’s lacking or in short supply, they will crash and burn. The addict will also crash and burn without their fix.
4. Once a narcissist or an alcoholic (or drug addict), always a narcissist or an addict. You can stop drinking and using (or stop acting so narcissistic), but the underlying disorder is unlikely to ever be cured.
5. Treatments like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) work much like the 12 steps of AA–they change behaviors but not the underlying disorder. The person must make a conscious effort to replace the old behaviors with the new ones.
6. High possibility of relapse or “slipping” back into the addictive or narcissistic behavior patterns if the program isn’t strictly followed (or even if it is).
7. An addict or narcissist without their fix (or supply) can both act in antisocial, selfish and narcissistic ways until their fix (or supply) is procured.

and finally…

8. Because narcissism (and addictive disorders) have a spiritual component, admitting that God or a Higher Power can help you is an integral part of all 12-step programs.


True, a 12-step program wouldn’t cure narcissism (just as AA doesn’t cure alcoholism), but I think such a program could help a narcissist who is self-aware and wants to change their attitudes and the way they treat others.

So why isn’t there a 12-step program for NPD?


6 thoughts on “Why isn’t there a 12-step program for narcissists?

  1. I would think there is a general discrepancy in one vital ingredient that is present in both the drug addict and the Narc. Public opinion and judgment.

    A person casually ‘chasing the dragon’ at work would garner a large amount of alarm and the serpent sprinter would find themselves in a hospital or jail cell rather quickly. Also, interestingly enough, doing this drug even privately and in a capacity to continue doing their work duties in as “normal” a capacity as others could see, if still discovered, the same fate would present itself.

    We are mostly self policing when it comes to narcotics, but with narcissistic people, they are the closest embodiment to the pink elephant in the room. Narcissists depend on the awkward politeness of others to “not cause a scene”, whereas the response to the drug addict is almost automatic upon its discovery.

    So, when the “evidence” proving a person is an addict to something not quite tangible, situation by situation, perspective, and intonation of spoken word will be dependant on the observers and their translation of events. The Narc depends on others granting the benefit of the doubt. If you’re caught snorting molten pills off tin foil in the bathroom chances are people wont quite believe you when you say you’re “crocheting your mom a tinfoil volcano shaped coffee cup cozy”. The evidence speaks for itself. (And yes, I’m sure mom will love it, you’ll be happy to know you’ll be staying in the cell next to her!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “If you’re caught snorting molten pills off tin foil in the bathroom chances are people wont quite believe you when you say you’re “crocheting your mom a tinfoil volcano shaped coffee cup cozy”. — LOLOLOL! I love this!


  2. 1. We admitted we were powerless over self-absorbed thoughts and through feeding our grandiose opinion of ourselves–that our lives had become unmanageable.
    ~For many narcs this is very difficult in itself. It’s very easy to live in denial and sugar coat the need for a narc supply, but if we are strong enough, and open minded enough to be self critical this first step can be taken – and for narcs in particular its huge
    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    -I think this would involve thinking about relationships, interactions, goals, etc. and trying to find where the supply is in that. Try to figure out where the ego boost is versus having genuine interactions. Through hiding behind my masks my whole life, I don’t think i’ve ever had a genuine interaction. How then can I take an honest moral inventory?
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    -Litany of Humility

    Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
    Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

    O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
    From the desire of being esteemed,
    Deliver me, Jesus.
    From the desire of being loved…
    From the desire of being extolled …
    From the desire of being honored …
    From the desire of being praised …
    From the desire of being preferred to others…
    From the desire of being consulted …
    From the desire of being approved …
    From the fear of being humiliated …
    From the fear of being despised…
    From the fear of suffering rebukes …
    From the fear of being calumniated …
    From the fear of being forgotten …
    From the fear of being ridiculed …
    From the fear of being wronged …
    From the fear of being suspected …

    That others may be loved more than I,
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

    That others may be esteemed more than I …
    That, in the opinion of the world,
    others may increase and I may decrease …
    That others may be chosen and I set aside …
    That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
    That others may be preferred to me in everything…
    That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
    8. Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    –A crushing and humbling blow to the narcs, our, over-inflated sense of ego
    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    -I’ve found consistency very difficult in recovery. With consistency I see growth, without it I tend to take one step forward and 3 steps back.
    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Liked by 1 person

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