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Low Self-Esteem and Drug Addiction

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, you may wonder how it all started. Although everyone has a different story, a common denominator in many instances of addiction is low self-esteem. Here, we take a look at the relationship between addiction and low-self-esteem and offer ways to break this negative cycle, including entering a detox program.

Low Self-Esteem Can Have Early Beginnings

A person’s self-esteem may have been damaged at an early age. It only takes one traumatic event to affect a person’s mental health and level of self-esteem for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, because of the stigma that continues to surround the subject of mental health, a person may not feel comfortable sharing their feelings with anyone.

Therefore, they continue on, feeling as though their life has no stability and never will. Constantly dealing with these feelings can cause a person to become more frightened of life’s unpredictability as time goes on.

Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem

In general, those who struggle with low self-esteem see themselves in a negative light when it comes to their competency, worthiness, or suitability to receive love. Low self-esteem has many symptoms, some of which include:

  • Being unable to make decisions, and relying on the input of others to do so
  • Being generally pessimistic about life
  • Living in constant fear that others will ridicule them
  • Feeling afraid to try new experiences and challenges

Low self-esteem causes a person to experience so many negative or overwhelming thoughts that they may not feel able to cope with them. As a result, they can turn to drug use, which may help them feel better. Unfortunately, this relief is only short-lived.

From Low Self-Esteem to Addiction

As drug use continues over time and an addiction begins to form, a person is rendered unable to stop using their drug of choice because more of it is needed to help them achieve relief. The mere existence of addiction can worsen a person’s low self-esteem because it causes them to do things they never thought they’d do in order to obtain more of the drug.

Legal Drugs Can Alter the Mind Too

There are many illegal drugs out there, but the truth is that there are also many addictive substances out there which are completely legal, one of these being alcohol. Alcohol addiction can be even more prevalent due to its affordability, legality, and easiness to obtain.

conversation between generations

How to Begin the Healing Process

Because they are so closely related, both low self-esteem and substance use disorders need to be treated. This can begin at home if your loved one is struggling with these conditions. You can also address these conditions yourself if you’re the one going through low self-esteem and addiction.

How to Talk to a Loved One

A person who has decided to recover from addiction is dealing with many emotions. A feeling of instability can return quickly and with much intensity. You can help them combat this by telling your loved one that you’re proud of who they are, and reassuring them that no matter what happens, how you feel about them will never change.

Listening to them when they need to talk can be the best thing you do for them. Instead of giving them advice, allow them to express their emotions without judgment.

Your loved one may have a very low opinion of themselves because they weren’t able to avoid becoming addicted. Helping them can begin with looking at yourself and some of the ways you may have dealt with life’s challenges in the past. This will help you to relate to your loved one and remember that everyone has their own way of handling stress.

Addition and recovery are both long journeys and, during that time, many relationships may become damaged. Your loved one may feel intense guilt about this, which is why it’s so important to make sure that your actions are telling them that you love them and enjoy spending time with them.

When they speak to you, your loved one may bring up their past, but this something you should never do yourself. Doing so could make your loved one feel even more insecure.

How to Help Yourself

If you are the one who is going through the recovery process, there are several tools you can use to improve self-esteem. If you feel it’s a good idea, it can help to have a loved one working with you to help you improve how you feel about yourself.

Your health is the most important. Make sure you’re eating right, are engaging in regular exercise, and are getting plenty of rest. Taking care of yourself extends to knowing what you need at any given time and ensuring you meet those needs. For example, instead of pushing through a long work week without rest, take some time just for you.

Focusing on your strengths can be a great way to build your self-esteem. Do the things you like to do. If you like a certain sport, you can join a local team. You can even explore the things you like by taking a class to learn more about them.

Changing how you talk to yourself is a big step in your recovery. Be aware of the things you say to yourself. Are you always putting yourself down? If so, ask yourself whether or not there’s any truth in what you’re telling yourself. Then, replace that untrue negative thought with one that’s true and positive.

Donating your time to your community as a volunteer can be very rewarding, both to you and those in need. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do; even the seemingly smallest action can make a significant impact.

The people you spend your time with can also make a big difference to your self-esteem. Try as much as possible to surround yourself with those who respect you and support you in this journey and stop spending time with those who don’t.

Mirror work can also be a very powerful way to help yourself. Although it can be very difficult to do at first, try to look yourself in the eye in the mirror every day and tell your reflection that you love them. If love is too strong a word, begin with “like” or even tell your reflection something you like about yourself and work up to saying “I love you.”

Working with Recovery Specialists

With the many challenges in recovering from addiction, it can help to have professional assistance. Whether a loved one or you are dealing with the ups and downs of recovery, getting help via therapy can relieve the feeling that you have to do this all by yourself.

A psychology specialist explaining an action plan for recovery to a troubled teenage boy during an individual therapy session.

Professional therapy, including individual and family counseling, can repair relationships with yourself and your loved ones. Intensive outpatient therapy is another effective treatment option. Allowing you to remain at home and meet work and family obligations, this kind of program requires a commitment over several nights per week and treats the mental and emotional aspects of addiction as well as the physical.

RECO Intensive offers a range of therapies for all levels of recovery. Our access to a vast network of primary therapists, medical doctors, and behavioral health specialists allows us to offer a wide range of treatment options. A case manager oversees your individual process and guides you on your recovery journey. Along with treatment, you’ll learn new skills that will help you confidently handle difficult situations and avoid relapse.

Although low self-esteem and addiction may seem impossible to overcome, outpatient rehab with RECO Intensive reveals the reality that you can love yourself and leave addiction behind. If you’re ready for a change in your life, call RECO at 561-501-2439.

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