Self-Esteem and Addiction

Self-esteem is the way you view your worth as a person.1 Without a healthy sense of self-worth, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you don’t deserve good things to happen to you.

If you’re struggling with addiction, you may even feel like you’re not worthy of recovery. Building up your self-esteem and recognizing your value as a person can help you turn things around and stay on the path toward long-term sobriety.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the relationship between self-esteem and addiction, and we’ll talk about some strategies for boosting your self-confidence.

Effects of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can be a breeding ground for addiction. Drugs and alcohol can help you numb bad feelings and bring you out of your shell. These substances can make you feel better about yourself, but their effects are temporary; you’ll need to keep drinking or using to head off the bad feelings.

Under circumstances like these, it doesn’t take long for an addiction to form and take away what remains of your self-worth, creating a vicious cycle of substance abuse and poor self-esteem.

Avoiding Relapse

Addiction is a chronic disease, and the risk of relapse is real. Studies indicate that relapse rates for drug addiction hover between 40 and 60 percent.2 Healthy self-esteem is a powerful tool that can help you stay on the road to long-term recovery and head off a relapse.

The logic is pretty simple: when you’re feeling good about yourself and value your sobriety, you’re less likely to throw away your hard work on a relapse.

Unfortunately, the tough early months of recovery are when many people are at an emotional low point and feeling bad about themselves. Building up your sense of self-worth during this critical time can make a huge difference in your long-term recovery journey.

Boosting Your Self-Esteem in Recovery

It can be hard to work on your self-esteem when you’re not feeling great about yourself, but a few simple strategies can help:

  • Stop beating yourself up: Forgive yourself for whatever happened during your addiction days, and let yourself move forward. You can’t change the past, but you can control your future.
  • Accept the challenge: Don’t back away from the idea of sobriety because you think you’re a bad person or feel that there’s no hope for you anyway. Stop underestimating yourself. It drags you down and keeps you from living the life you were meant to live.
  • Pace yourself: It’s easy to adopt an all-or-nothing mindset, feeling like a failure if you don’t accomplish everything on your personal priority list. This type of thinking is destructive to your self-esteem. Instead of focusing on what you didn’t accomplish, focus on what you did achieve.

Low self-esteem can fuel an addiction, and building up your self-esteem during recovery can go a long way toward preventing a relapse. When you value yourself as a person, it’s easier to value your sobriety.



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