Self-Esteem and Addiction

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Self-Esteem and Addiction

29 July, 2020Articles, News

What is self-esteem?

The term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. This is how a person may see themselves in terms of looks, confidence, value, etc.. Self-Esteem is sometimes said to be based on a person’s beliefs and values, behaviours, and emotions and even their own appearance. It can be seen as a personality trait. There may be high and low levels of self-esteem which may be both harmful to an individual emotionally and socially. It is best for an individual to have a level of self-worth that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. The curvilinear model of self-esteem shows what level a person holds. A good level of self-worth will help motivate a person to be successful in life and achieve their goals and dreams.

What are the signs that someone may have self-esteem issues?

There are many ways that an individual may suffer from low self-esteem and many causes thereof. How do we know if someone may be truly struggling with low self-esteem? There are a few signs for which someone may look out. Research shows that most people with low self-worth may have the following signs:

  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hostility
  • Excessive preoccupation with personal problems
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, depression, and headaches.

These are just a few symptoms of low self-esteem. People that suffer from issues with self-worth may have a large variety of signs or behaviour patterns that may indicate the person may be suffering and need help. These may include addiction, checking their phone in social situations, emotional outbursts, taking things too personally, giving up too soon, depression, anxiety, procrastination and many more.

How does self-esteem contribute to addiction?

There has been a lot of research done to establish the connection between self-esteem and substance abuse. People are often influenced by the world around them and if a person suffers from low levels of self-worth, then they may be affected by external sources in order to deal with their negative thoughts and feelings. These external sources may and often include drugs or alcohol. For example, if someone has been bullied and has fears around not being accepted socially, they may resort to drugs because they want other people to accept them socially. Low self-esteem can lead to a lack of development as well as a tendency towards drug and alcohol consumption. There is however, no direct causal link between low levels of self-worth and substance abuse – other factors may be involved. Self-esteem issues can also be the result of substance abuse. In the past, the only way somebody may have felt good about themselves or had any self-esteem, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, may have been when that person was not sober – we assume that without drugs nobody will like us because we don’t fit in.

How to improve self-esteem?

The only thing that matters when working with self-esteem is your own opinion of yourself. Most people that suffer from self-esteem issues and substance abuse, need to improve their own sense of self-worth. This can be done by attending a programme of recovery such as NA or AA and following the 12 steps. In doing so, the addict/alcoholic will improve their view of themselves, work through their fears and learn to deal with their emotions. They will begin to take greater care of themselves and become more emotionally and socially connected. Other methods to improve self-esteem include the following:

  • Being mindful of what you need to change about yourself
  • Change the story by changing the behaviour and actions to motivate for positive change
  • Stop comparing ourselves to others
  • Identify your strengths and obtain goals from these
  • Physical exercise routines
  • Doing service for others
  • Forgiving yourself and others
  • Remembering you are not your circumstances

Follow these suggestions and you will be well on your way to achieving your full potential.

Dominique Le Claire Rossouw

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