Low Self-Esteem sometimes can lead to substance abuse disorder, in this piece you’re going to learn about the link between these two aspects and how it is possible to reach Self-Esteem And Addiction Recovery.
According to The Gate Way Foundation, low self-esteem revolves around the perception that one is inadequate, unlovable, unworthy, and/or incompetent. It often stems from exposure to dysfunctional behavior as a child. When children bear the brunt of anger, abandonment, abuse, neglect, or continual negative criticism, it can lead to feelings of low self-worth.
Low self-esteem isn’t limited to individuals who have suffered trauma in childhood. Any demoralizing experience, anything from getting fired from a job to breaking up with a significant other, can adversely affect a person’s self-image. These negative events are a part of life, but for some adults, it becomes more difficult to rebound, resulting in low self-esteem.
People with chronic self-esteem issues may take on behaviors that reinforce their feelings of inadequacy, including drug abuse because they believe they have little to live up to. When people use drugs or alcohol as an artificial boost to low self-esteem, they’re attempting to function in situations where they lack confidence.
Unfortunately, drug use can also lead to self-esteem issues, catching users in a vicious cycle. Someone may feel powerless to their cravings or guilty about the effects of their addiction on those around them. For many, it can seem impossible to get out of this routine and into a healthier lifestyle. 
Low Self-Esteem and Addiction
A person with low self-esteem may have trouble overcoming negative thoughts or feelings and therefore turn to outside experiences or activities to change those negative thoughts into positive ones. Drugs can be one of the outside activities they turn to in a negative situation or state of mind.
The Mental Health and Counseling Center of the University of Texas reported that low self-esteem can lead to a lack of development and/or tendency toward drugs or alcohol consumption. This is just one example of the many studies that have discovered some type of connection between low self-esteem and drug abuse.
It’s important to understand, however, that in many cases, there is not necessarily a direct connection between Low Self-Esteem And Addiction. There can be many other factors that play a role in drug abuse causes, such as family history, other mental or behavioral disorders, and more. 
“To understand the connection between low self-esteem and drug abuse, one needs to understand that low self-esteem is a symptom of any number of conditions,” said Navjyot Bedi, M.D., Medical Director at Talbott Recovery. “Low self-esteem often accompanies the ravages and consequences of addiction.” 
Research shows that low self-esteem can be directly linked to addiction, but it can be also associated with tendencies of theft and prostitution. The scientific piece ‘The Role of Self-esteem in Tendency towards Drugs, Theft and Prostitution’, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that “those who are involved in addiction, theft, and prostitution have lower self-esteem compared with the ordinary person. Thus, it is necessary to increase an individual’s self-esteem in order to decrease their tendency to addiction, theft, and prostitution”. 
According to Anna Jurich, the Executive Director at Gateway Carbondale, “There is definitely a correlation [between low self-esteem and substance use]. Many people who identify with substance abuse disorders also have a history of trauma, and most people who have suffered childhood trauma also identify [as having] low self-esteem,” says Jurich.
“Especially for young people, used to fit in with a peer group is a risk for someone suffering from low self-esteem. Substance use also helps to dull the pain of loneliness and feelings of low self-worth.” That perception that a person is unworthy or unlovable builds a bridge between Low Self-Esteem And Addiction. To decrease the tendency towards drugs, it’s only logical that recovery must also focus on self-image. 
Signs of Low Self-Esteem
It is important to detect the signs of Low Self-Esteem in case you, or someone you love, are battling with this issue. Some signs of low self-esteem in adults might include:
- Feeling self-conscious and constantly comparing oneself to others
- Hyper-obsessive about relationships with others
- When faced with setbacks, feelings of self-defeat are common
- Chronically indecisive, even with small things like deciding where to eat
- Apologizing for everything, even when an apology isn’t necessary or warranted
- Shopping based on what other people will think rather than what the person actually want
- Unable to accept compliments, instead attributing things to luck, genetics or factors out of your control
- Checking your phone constantly in social situations, even if you have no messages
- Telling lots of little white lies to make yourself look more impressive or important than you feel
- Physical symptoms, from fatigue and headaches to insomnia, depression and anxiety 
Low Self-Esteem And Addiction Recovery
Low self-esteem can be a contributing factor among drug abuse causes, resolving one of those causes can help. In fact, many drug abuse treatment programs are designed to address some of the conditions and disorders that affect self-esteem, such as depression, anxiety or other mood disorders.
“Improving self-esteem requires addressing all of the issues described above,” Dr. Bedi said. “Addiction recovery and the 12-step program invite personal reflection and growth, and demand changes in behavior. This directly results in improvement of self-esteem as one is validated and rewarded for the changes made in life and in dealing with others.”
Drug abuse and other addictions are caused by a variety of factors and circumstances – not just one. Improving low self-esteem can help combat many of the most common drug abuse causes, but it should be done as a part of a broader treatment program like those offered at Talbott Recovery. 
With personalized addiction treatment programs, people who have low self-esteem and substance abuse disorders can enhance relationships by improving their coping and communication skills. Rather than reacting to preconceived notions, each person can learn how to resolve their disagreements with others in a healthy, productive manner.
To develop a healthy self-image, many recovery programs may focus on improvements through:
- Becoming aware of negative self-talk
- Challenging negative or inaccurate thoughts
- Identifying troubling situations or conditions
- Encouraging exercise, which can boost mood
- Focusing on what you can change in your life
- Celebrating small accomplishments
- Surrounding yourself with a positive support network
Rebuilding self-esteem is not an overnight process — it’s one that can take months of dedication and mindfulness. Therapy, the ability to talk through past events and relationships, is also a key part of the solution. Fortunately, the steps to recovery will get easier with practice. As one’s self-image improves, their confidence and well-being will also strengthen. 
Reclaim your life from Low Self-Esteem and Addiction
Low Self-Esteem and Addiction are conditions that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Low Self-Esteem and Addiction at the same time with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 ‘Can low self-esteem lead to substance abuse? Exploring the link between self-esteem and substance abuse’ – (Gatewayfoundation.org)
 The Mental Health and Counseling Center of the University of Texas (cmhc.utexas.edu)
 ‘Low Self-Esteem and Drug Abuse: What’s the Connection?’ – (talbottcampus.com)
 Alavi H. R. (2011). The Role of Self-esteem in Tendency towards Drugs, Theft, and Prostitution. Addiction & Health, 3(3-4), 119–124. – U.S. National Library of Medicine (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)