I can see that Alanon and AA have worked wonders. I'm totally convinced they have wonderful systems in place to re-build people's self-esteems and get them out of alcohol dependency, and I am so happy for you that you've found so much wisdom with them.
But I can't help but think there's a minor detail being left out in your theory/ies. True NPDer's DO NOT have alcohol or substance abuse problems. It is not documented that the medical community has witnessed that NPD often appears alongside substance abuse, it does not show up as part of the criteria, nor is it documented that a high percentage of alcholics or substance abusers have N traits, let alone NPD. But it is witnessed and documented that NPD often presents with verbal, emotional and physical abuse, which is often well hidden behind closed doors.
How can they live grandiose lives if they are druggies and bums drinking themselves senseless? If they have a minor problem with cigarettes or alcohol they will recognise and fix themselves up quick smart. They may dabble with cocaine to be seen in the right circles perhaps, but unless they actually do circulate with the famous their only option to obtain drugs would be from the seedy parts of town, which is not what they fantasise about.
Personally, I can never see an NPD person becoming a sponsor in AA organisation. I just can't see it. They don't have the empathy to help someone else better their lives. NPD's are all about bettering their own lives and in many instances this comes at a cost to others (those closest to them).
I'd be very unbelieving of any therapist who says he/she witnesses NPD'ers recovering 'all the time.' I just can't help but think 'balderdash' to that and wonder if the therapist is in fact NPD themselves - spinning tall tales.
It is a documented fact that people with NPD are extremely reluctant to be treated in therapy, and also if they do even start to make some headway into the true source of their inner emptiness and blackness the treatment can make them worse. Remember, many NPD's are psychopaths too. Pathological lying is common to both. In nearly all cases, the NPD person will cease treatment, and this can often be at the expense of the therapist who may have even been reported by the patient for bad conduct etc., I really can't see a person diagnosed with NPD even walking across the threshold of an AA meeting, they'd think themselves far too high and mighty to mingle with the 'addicted'.
Sam Vaknin milks the victim role because that is what NPD's truly honestly without a doubt believe they are. With them, it really is a case of "nothing wrong with me, it's just everyone else". They are so self-absorbed they cannot see the harm and destruction they do within relationships (personal or professional). That's why so many of them end up in jail. They are above the law! If their relationships split it's always the other person's fault. If they get the sack, it's the bosses or corporations fault. If they fail a course, it's the stupid lecturers or course content fault. They will do whatever they believe they can get away with without being caught. But if they do get caught, it's the law that is wrong, the rules are stupid, or everyone is not seeing it from their point of view, so they must be right.
I fully believe your ex has *some* strong N traits, but given his great recovery like you have described, I'd doubt he was ever diagnosed with PD though. He's done so well by the sounds of it.
But by your own admission, you say your current hubby is never going to recover. That in itself is saying something. He quit, and if he starts again, he will quit again. Therapy to him is an attention seeing device. "Ooooh, look at all these people here to discuss my problem." type thing. Also he'll go to appease those around him if he sees his NS dwindling and he can use it as a tactic to try and regain it back.
My partner is a serial counselloraholic. He goes, it's attention seeking to him, nothing more, just a band-aid to show 'hey, look I'm going to counselling, so I'm trying.' But it's all a game. A game to have others think he's the victim. A game to drag me along, a game to outsmart the counsellor. "Look at me showing no empathy or understanding, shove that in your pipe and smoke it, counsellor." That's the type of thing he does.
And more importantly it fits in with all the readings I've done about NPD. I read all this stuff, then I watch my partner and it fits like a glove. I can see it in action.
I know NPD has only been refined and officially ranked as an all pervasive PD since about 1983, but Narcissism has been recognised and documented since ancient Greek times.
I believe before NPD became more popular now than it was in the 60's or 70's and even the 80's and 90's that these 'men' were simply labelled abusers. That is what they are in relationships. They verbally, emotionally, psychologically and physically abuse and control and isolate their partners. NPD and abuse is one and the same. My experience with Domestive Violence counsellors who have been around since the beginning of women's shelters when asked about recovery and change for these men, all silently purse their lips and shake their heads. As disappointing as it is, they say, they've never actually seen any do a 100% turn around that has lasted for the rest of their lives. They have all remained abusers and controllers to some extent.
I found your post a bit contradictory in places. At one end you have held the flame for NPD recovery, and then later stating that a lot of NPD's don't recover.