Individuals who suffer from low self-esteem struggle to find happiness away from their addiction. This is because their lack of self-worth will prevent them from putting any right effort into improving their life. Often times, deep down addicts do not feel that they are worth such effort.

Addiction and Self-Esteem
One of the characteristics of an addictive personality is low self-esteem. This sense of low self-worth drives people into addiction in the first place. Initially, alcohol or drugs can make people feel more confident. It also reduces their concern about what other people think. For the substance abusers, this improvement in self-esteem is short-lived. The person becomes addicted, and their problems worsen. One way that alcoholics describe the situation is to say that alcohol gave me wings but then it took away the sky. Once the individual begins the downward spiral of addiction, their self-esteem sinks to new depths.

Self-Esteem in Recovery
If people continue to suffer from low self-esteem issues after they become sober, it will affect their ability to find happiness. Their recovery will not feel satisfactory, and they will suffer from the temptation to return to the numbness of addiction. A life away from alcohol and drugs is full of possibilities, but only if the individual values themselves highly enough to put in the necessary effort. If people are prepared to settle for just being away from alcohol or drugs, they may just end up as a dry drunk.

How to Increase Self-Esteem in Recovery
Self-esteem is not a fixed part of an individual’s personality. Patients can increase their own sense of self-worth. Here are some ways people can increase their own self esteem:

  • Helping other addicts in recovery can be a wonderful way to increase self-esteem. This may give addicts the sense that they are of value because they are contributing to a cause. It also moves the focus away from themselves and onto other people.
  • In AA (Alcohol Anonymous) they often say that sometimes you have to ‘fake it to make it’. This means that people can deliberately make themselves have positive thoughts. In the beginning, this might all feel a bit unnatural, but it eventually becomes automatic. It is just like any other habit that people can develop.
  • Addicts can begin to monitor their negative thoughts and challenge them. For example, if they believe that another person does not like them, they can ask themselves how they know this. Has that other person actually done something that proves this belief? Is this assumption based on attempts at mind reading? It is probably not possible to know what other people think, so there is no point in assuming the worst. By constantly challenging their negative thoughts, the individual is able to deal with them better.
  • Meditation can be a wonderful technique for increasing self-esteem. It involves deliberately cultivating love for other people. In order to develop this sense of loving kindness, the individual has to first accept who they are and place a high value on this. Mindfulness meditation can also be a good way of monitoring the negative thinking that causes low self-esteem.
  • A gratitude journal is a good way to focus on the positives in life. This involves writing about all the good things in life. There will always be positive things to appreciate for those who are prepared to look. By focusing on being deliberately grateful, a person will develop the habit of doing so naturally.