Addiction is a cruel force that can put a person through a great change. One such psychological issue that contributes to addiction is something called King Baby Syndrome. Though not an official diagnosis, it is well-known in therapeutic circles, and someone with King Baby Syndrome is much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than other people.

There are not only the physical consequences of addiction but the mental health problems that may be the root cause of their substance abuse. Issues such as depression, anxiety and stress are widely known and discussed in depth – linked clearly to addiction. When this happens, it is known as a dual diagnosis.

Understanding King Baby Syndrome is important to help yourself or someone you know deal with it and increase the chances of achieving long-term recovery. Find out what King Baby Syndrome is here.


What is King Baby Syndrome?

The first ideas about King Baby Syndrome came from a paper that Sigmund Freud wrote in the 1930s. The phrase was popularised in 1986 by Tom Cunningham, relating it to drug and alcohol addicts.

The core idea of King Baby Syndrome is that when you are a baby, all your needs are met. You cry and scream to get attention, fed and put to sleep – with nothing expected from you in return. Usually, as people grow up, they mature and learn the tend to their own needs and learn that they are not the centre of the universe.

For many reasons, some people never grow out of this stage and continue to be very focused on themselves and believe their wants and needs are more important than anyone else’s.

People with King Baby Syndrome will come across as narcissistic and hard to compromise with. Overcoming King Baby Syndrome can be a great challenge then as it is something deeply ingrained into a person and requires a huge shift in their perspective and personality.


Signs and Symptoms of King Baby Syndrome

Signs of King Baby Syndrome can manifest in many ways. Recognising the symptoms is important when trying to get a diagnosis of King Baby Syndrome alongside dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction. Without dealing with the underlying psychological reasons behind addiction, you are only scratching the surface and unlikely to deal with the problem properly.

Common King Baby Syndrome symptoms include:

  • Problems with authority
  • Get angry when criticised
  • Blaming others when things go wrong
  • Fear of failure and rejection
  • Extremely egotistical
  • Afraid of being abandoned
  • A constant need for approval
  • Focus on money and material things
  • Thrill-seeking behaviour
  • Loneliness

Many of the symptoms of King Baby Syndrome crop up in people with addiction. Often alcoholics and drug users suffer from isolation and a sense they don’t belong. Self-medicating can stem from wanting to suppress feelings and memories so they can cope day-to-day. The more hostile behaviour toward others trying to help them, the act of blaming others, is apparent in addicts when confronted about their addiction.

There are many more characteristics of KBS but the overriding idea is the lack of personal responsibility and the thought that the world revolves around them.


Causes and Risk Factors

King Baby Syndrome causes can be numerous and there are no set reasons as every person is different. There are however common psychological, social and environmental factors that may increase the chance of King Baby Syndrome occurring.

Childhood Trauma

The problems can begin in childhood due to neglect or trauma, perhaps making the person suffer from PTSD. It is believed that inside a king-baby is the lost child – a part of them that feels worthless and alone. As a result of this, in adulthood, they seek to get the approval and love that they didn’t receive when they were a child. This lost child may only feel safe when they are being cared for and overindulged. Having this feeling though brings on a sense of entitlement and there is then a battle between the lost child and the king-baby.

Mental Illness

Alcohol and drug addiction are commonly used as a coping mechanism. King Baby Syndrome is another form of coping that crops up to deal with mental illness. Rather than deal with underlying issues, such as depression or bipolar disorder, avoiding it altogether is much easier. Living the high life of parties, drugs and alcohol is preferred by king-babies when things get tough – letting that untreated mental illness get worse.


It might be a cliché to blame the parents, but it can be the case. Overprotective or overindulgent parents can cause someone to not mature properly. They may have a warped sense of self and what a relationship should entail – leading to lifelong issues.


Impact of King Baby Syndrome on Relationships

Relationships can be difficult when coping with King Baby Syndrome. People with it will always look for a caregiver, someone to enable their behaviour and indulge them. They will struggle with the give and take of a marriage or serious relationship.

Friends may be hard to maintain as they are pushed away due to a lack of perceived adoration. Someone with King Baby Syndrome could be hard to work with as they attempt to sabotage others that perform better than them.


Treatment Approaches for Addicts

As the main obstacle to recovery is denial, treatment for King Baby Syndrome and addiction can be difficult. The first step is for the person to want the change – only through the desire for self-improvement can addiction be overcome.

At a private drug and alcohol rehab, clients undergo a comprehensive addiction treatment programme. Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Group Therapy are vital to helping people with King Baby Syndrome. CBT especially is all about changing mindsets and learning coping strategies that can help in the long term.

Letting go of old habits is difficult and an alcohol and drug rehab is a good place to identify toxic behaviour and process the root issues. At a centre like Asana Lodge, an approach can be found that suits an individual’s unique circumstances.


Support and Treatment of King Baby Syndrome

Support for King Baby Syndrome is out there if you or a loved one is looking for it. There are not only professional methods from others but things a person can do themselves to overcome King Baby Syndrome.


Learning to accept that not everything can go your way is key to getting better. With greater acceptance of the flaws in people and the world, you can better see and accept what is imperfect within. With the recognition of issues comes the desire to change.

Support Systems

Having others to help you is important. After rehabilitation, group support meetings will be made available as part of an aftercare programme. With in-person meetings and online communities, you can start to banish the feelings of loneliness and lack of self-worth that lead you to be a king baby. Family can be important in this time and hopefully, bridges can be repaired if they see a real desire for change.


You can look after yourself in many ways. Practising mindfulness can help a person stay calm when things don’t go their way. Exercise can ground a person in the moment and stop them worrying about the past or the future. Doing simple things like changing diet and having a new hobby can help a person focus on self-improvement rather than focusing on other people’s faults.


Get Help Today

People with King Baby Syndrome may just come across as unpleasant people, but underneath is someone struggling. It can lead a person to addiction which will eventually strip away everything if left untreated.

If you are worried about suffering from King Baby Syndrome and addiction and want to know more about our drug and alcohol rehab, get in touch today. Call 1908 489 421 to get more info about the work we do at Asana Lodge.

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