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Low Self-Esteem and Addiction

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About Low Self-Esteem and Addiction

Self-esteem is described as human self-evaluation which then is transferred into overall self-worth. Sometimes it is described as the satisfaction and feelings of confidence a person feels their life represents when compared to others. It is quite common for young adolescents through college-age individuals to struggle with self-esteem at some point. Many youth, and adults, view themselves as having value and contributing to society on some level. When individuals are having trouble seeing their lives value, their confidence and perceived worth can become an anchor for them. Any individuals, regardless of age or gender, who live with chronic feelings of low self-esteem, put themselves at much higher risk of drug addiction or alcoholism. Low Self-esteem and addiction are connected in a variety of ways and should be treated by counselors trained in co-occurring disorders.


Low Self-esteem can impact an individual’s life in many different ways. They often search in vain for happiness, joy, and success in places they will never find it. This can lead to feelings of depression and physical withdrawal from social circles. The pain that comes with low self-esteem and addiction can be so intense that many struggling with it turn to substance abuse to escape from their perceived situation. What most individuals find is that this temporary escape provided by mind-altering substances such as meth abuse or heroin abuse is short lived and counterproductive.

Low Self-Esteem and Addiction Facts

Many individuals having difficulty seeing the value they add to society and peer circles can be at a very high risk of developing substance abuse issues. Some believe that individuals with low self-esteem have negative views of their short and long-term futures. Others have a deep-rooted lack of the belief that things will ever improve. Initially, the feelings of elation when taking meth or heroin can relieve some of the deep pain low self-esteem can cause, but this is very short lived. And the reality is that their peers with better self-esteem when using alcohol and drugs often end up viewing their own self-worth in a negative way. Drug and alcohol addiction will steal self-respect and crush self-esteem across the board.

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Low Self-esteem and Addiction Facts

These two disorders go hand in hand and alcohol or drug rehab is often the best cure. The way people see themselves influence their behavior and their life. Success and happiness should be for everyone but when you have low self-esteem, you don’t feel worthy of such things. Low self-esteem impacts primarily your relationship to other people and substance abuse can be seen as a temporary relief. Low self-esteem starts during childhood and consists in not being able to positively appraise your own self-worth. Parents and teachers play an important role in instilling a strong, or weak, sense of self-worth in the children they are taking care of. Cruel comments can leave a lasting impression on vulnerable children.

There are four main contributing factors to drug and alcohol addiction:

  • Feeling of incompetence: feeling that other people are more competent and powerful and letting those same people dominate you since they are more “worthy”.
  • Feeling insignificant: feeling unimportant and almost “invisible” in the eyes of others.
  • Feeling like a “bad person”: feeling like you are not worthy of life and feeling unappreciated.
  • Lacking personal stability: feeling that you lack control over your own life
  • Additional causes can be wealth, occupation, personal appearance, talents etc…Addiction usually increases the feeling of low self-esteem and life spirals out of control even further as a result.

Low Self-esteem and Addiction Effects

A specific set of problems is typically experienced by people dealing with both addiction and low self-esteem:

  • Not taking care of yourself: it means not paying attention to your appearance but also to your physical and mental health, even leading to premature death in some cases.
  • Failure to realize your potential: most people with low self-esteem issues are mediocre because they don’t believe in themselves and think that no matter what efforts they make, they will always be unsuccessful.
  • More likely to turn to illicit substances, self-medication, and alcohol to alleviate the mental pain
  • More likely to be caught in an abusive relationship: you don’t believe they deserve to be loved and valued.
  • Trust issues: you might trust untrustworthy people and distrust people who are really trying to help you think they have a hidden agenda. Both are extreme behaviors.
  • Being insecure, especially in relationships. It’s hard to believe that someone can value you if you don’t value yourself.
  • Struggling with compliments because they are often judged insincere.

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Low Self-Esteem and Addiction Recovery and Treatment

Drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs will address directly some of the cause of low self-esteem such as mood disorders and depression. Improving self-esteem is only one aspect that helps in fighting substance addiction. But in most cases, a broader treatment program will be needed to completely eliminate the root of the problem and the addiction itself. There are several recovery centers in the area of Los Angeles that deal specifically with these issues. The goal is to make the patient more aware of his/her thoughts and forgiving others is also a key point for a speedy and lasting recovery. Increasing self-esteem during treatment is essential in order to get results.
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