How Low Self-Esteem May Trigger Addiction

Mar 5, 2015

Most people who struggle with addiction also struggle with low self-esteem, and in many cases they turn to drugs or alcohol because doing so is a form of escape from the realities and stresses of everyday life. These substances fill the void, making a person feel good—but only temporarily, which is precisely the problem. The ‘happiness’ or ‘peace’ they find is fleeting; after the effects of alcohol and drugs wear off, they are back to feeling the same way they did before (or worse).

Many studies and professionals who work with those who suffer from depression have indicated that low self-esteem is one of the underlying causes of addiction.

Running Low

There are three major causes of low self-esteem: people often think of themselves as unstable, insignificant, and/or immoral.

• Instability – Patients feel that they can’t take control of their lives. It’s a feeling that anyone can experience, for example when your career isn’t going the way you expected it to as a working professional. The feeling of being unable to overcome the situation often leads to feeling defeated, blaming themselves for the situation they are in.
• Insignificance – Many people struggling with addiction do not feel good about themselves, and may also feel that they are unloved or unworthy. As a result they doubt their potential and don’t take the necessary steps needed to achieve their goals.
• Immorality – These patients believe that they are bad people or they have done something in their past that has led to them deserving to be treated poorly. This feeling may lead them to stay in an abusive relationship, or begin abusing drugs and alcohol to avoid the feelings.

Numbing the Pain

Low self-esteem can also contribute to addiction when someone first begins taking substances to feel more confident. Drugs and alcohol often strip away inhibitions so the person no longer cares about what other people think. For many people who have fallen into addiction, the confidence and happiness they get from taking substances is temporary, though, so they tend to take in more. This is the start of the downward spiral of addiction. As their addiction worsens, the problem with self-esteem does as well.

Coming Out of the Downward Spiral

If you struggle with low self-esteem and/or addiction issues, sometimes it feels like you are very alone and there is no way out. Fortunately there is a way to get help, and if you have these feelings, come talk to us.

Addiction doesn’t have to define your whole life. Our addiction treatments will help you deal with your problems while developing a renewed attitude of happiness and fulfillment. With our professional counselors and friendly community, you can get out of what might seem like an endless downward spiral and start anew.