Self-Esteem and Addiction

Self-Esteem and Addiction

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    Addiction can have a detrimental effect on a person’s self-esteem. Low self-esteem can fuel addiction and keep a person from seeking help because they feel like they don’t deserve it. An instrumental part of treatment and recovery is learning how to boost your self-esteem and start loving yourself again.

    Why Addiction Destroyed Your Self-Esteem

    Substance addiction affects every aspect of your life, including your physical and mental health, relationships, and how you feel about yourself. You may have already had low self-esteem before you began using substances. Sometimes people start substance use as a way to cope with complicated feelings. 

    Suffering from low self-esteem might have resulted from previous trauma, loss, or complex events. Adding addiction to the mix only causes self-esteem to plummet even further. A combination of your mental state, physical state, and shame can bring your self-image to new lows.

    Effects on Your Physical Health

    If you feel physically terrible, you can feel mentally terrible. Substance use can cause people to gain weight, experience dental issues, and affect skin and nail health. A person might have scars related to substance use that make them feel insecure. They also feel less worthy of love and admiration.

    Effects on Your Mental Health 

    Substance use can negatively impact your mental health and worsen pre-existing mental health disorders. Those with poor mental health might use substances to self-medicate, which makes the symptoms worse.

    You Might Be Filled With Shame

    Addiction can cause people to do or say things they aren’t proud of. Active addiction can cause legal, money, and relationship problems that can turn a person’s life upside down. It’s not uncommon to regret past actions that you can’t undo. 

    The blame or shame you feel can impact your self-esteem. You might only see yourself as your mistakes, making it harder to consider yourself as someone worthy of love and grace.

    You’ve Internalized Stigmas

    Those struggling with self-esteem and substance abuse also deal with the stigmas attached to substance use disorder. Whether you’ve heard these judgments or been brought up to feel a certain way about addiction, this can impact your self-image. If people taught you that those with addiction are lazy or worthless, you might begin associating those unfair depictions with yourself.

    How to Rebuild a Healthy Sense of Self

    As you go through addiction treatment and recovery, you will be given the opportunity to rebuild your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Working with a therapist, attending groups with your peers, and creating a new way of engaging with the world will help you rediscover all you have to offer yourself and others. 

    Learn About Your Strengths

    Confidence comes from knowing what you are good at. Individuals with low self-esteem often struggle to recognize their talents. It’s easier for people with lower self-esteem to think of their weaknesses. 

    A person may even see things that seem like talents to others with low self-esteem as weaknesses. A person who is caring and emotionally in tune might see themselves as overly emotional. 

    Another person might think they’re too loud, while others see them as passionate. Learn to recognize your strengths; if you can’t, think about how your weaknesses could be strengths.

    Forgive Yourself for Past Actions

    Those struggling with addiction tend to carry a lot of shame, either for the act of substance use itself or for the consequences they faced for having an addiction. They might have done things they otherwise wouldn’t have done if they didn’t have an addiction. They might have hurt others or made bad choices. 

    While you might feel terrible for your past actions, it’s essential to forgive yourself as you continue your journey. You can’t change the past. The only thing you can do is move forward, and since you’ve chosen to get help, you’re already on the right track. Forgiveness is hard, but letting go of your past mistakes allows you to see yourself better.

    Address Inner Dialogue

    People can often internalize the mean things that have been said to them. Even long after getting hurt, their inner voice can become their bully. Even if they know they aren’t entirely at fault for their addiction and behaviors, they may still think awful things about themselves. 

    A great way to rebuild your self-esteem is to address your inner dialogue. You can begin by being mindful of your thoughts as they come up. If you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, think about where that thought came from, whether or not the negative thought is accurate, and how you would feel if you said that about someone you love. 

    You might find that your internal dialogue isn’t fair or accurate. This takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can stop negative self-talk in its tracks. 

    Unfortunately, low self-esteem is all too common. It can take years to rebuild your self-esteem, but it is possible. Low self-esteem can hold you back from achieving what you think is impossible. You are better than you think and stronger than you know. 

    During treatment and recovery, it’s essential to focus on rebuilding your self-esteem and unlearning your negative beliefs about yourself. 

    Following the steps above is a great start, but it takes a lot of practice and dedication. While it’s a lot of work, understand that you’re worth the effort. We want our residents to love themselves unconditionally. 

    During your experience at Villa Oasis San Diego, you’ll learn that’s entirely possible. If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between addiction and low self-esteem, call to speak with one of our clinicians today at (323) 739-8673

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