Low self-esteem is one of the central causes and attributes that is linked to addiction behaviors and substance abuse problems. People who view themselves in a negative fashion are much more likely to perform damaging behaviors to their own bodies, since their lack of self worth may guide them into performing negative actions and making bad decisions as they relate to addiction and substance abuse.
Low self-esteem is at once both brought on and exacerbated by the problems and habits of an addictive personality. People first begin using drugs and alcohol hoping it will increase their self-confidence and shield them from feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem. When they find out that this is only the case for fleeting periods of time, addicts begin to rely on drugs more and more in order to simply cope with life and mask their self-esteem issues in a coping mechanism that works for them.
During addiction, though, the paradox is maddening as the drugs and alcohol cause self-esteem to fall even lower and issues to be exacerbated even further. Lack of self-worth keeps people relying on addiction, which in turn lowers self-worth even further, promoting even more continued addiction and addictive behaviors. This, of course, makes treatment and rehabilitation incredibly difficult as addiction and low self-worth play off each other to create a vortex of negativity and damage.
All hope is not lost though, as treatment and rehabilitation seeks to lift the addict out of negative and damaging behaviors, and begin to work to prove to him that his life is worth living, he brings value to situations and people, and his self-esteem is something worth holding dearly. The building of positive self-esteem is one of the key aspects to effect recovery and treatment from addiction problems, as addiction counselors and therapists spend a great deal of time trying to bring addicts back “up,” and prove to them that they can cope perfectly well as people of value without the need for drugs, alcohol, or other substances to abuse.
One technique to increase self-esteem in addicts is to have them work on volunteer projects to help other people. Doing so creates a pattern where the former addict feels better about himself or herself because they have made a positive difference in the life of another person. All the while, the addict learns empathy, which is another very powerful tool in bridging the gap from addiction to treatment and recovery.
Counselors and addiction therapists work extremely hard to promote self-esteem and self-worth among former addicts, as this can be the gateway to a successful rehabilitation program, and lasting treatment to get clean. It is a long road towards building self-esteem, but it can and will happen with commitment and hard work, and the addict can recover fully with a positive sense of self-worth and value.