The Chicken or the Egg: The Nature of Self-Esteem

Addicts often suffer from extremely low self-esteem brought on by multiple negative life experiences and crises. Often as individuals begin in recovery, they are plagued with guilt around their actions and behaviors during their addiction. At times this is so strong it is one of the factors that keep individuals in their addiction.

This guilt may be associated with many different experiences, including events that often happen to individuals because of their addiction. Obtaining one’s drug of choice can often be difficult and addicts often engage in behaviors they would never dream of doing if they were sober. Addicts often put themselves in dangerous situations. They steal, engage in prostitution, sell drugs, become involved with the wrong crowd and other such negative activities. These behaviors often lead individuals into dangerous situations which can have serious and damaging consequences. Often addicts get beat up, hospitalized or jailed because of their addiction. All of this destructive behavior can lead to self-blame and contribute to low self-esteem.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what came first, the chicken or the egg. Sometimes an individuals’ low self-esteem leads them into their addiction. Often a trauma such as child abuse/neglect creates self-blame in children which in turn manifests as low self-esteem. This can often cause an individual to use substances to escape that pain.

At times, the emotional pain of traumatic events, such as losing a loved one, can lead to substance abuse and addiction. The addiction eventually adds to the pain of the loss, then again leads to guilt, self-blame and low self-esteem.

In short, the majority of addicts suffer from low self-esteem in one form or another and for some reason or another. Often the fear of feeling the sadness and shame associated with low self-esteem is used as an excuse to continue to use.

The good news is, there is help for low self-esteem. Treatment through the recovery process can help individuals heal, forgive themselves, learn and grow. When one decides to choose sobriety, it is very scary. The first thing to know, however, is facing the feelings of low self-esteem is not nearly as painful as the fear of facing those feelings. With help, individuals can begin to see their own self-worth and begin to contribute to others and society in a meaningful way which then increases self-esteem.

Treatment can also help individuals face their traumas and change the negative recordings that run through their heads and contribute to the feelings of self-blame and low self-esteem. Treatment helps provide the strength to look at the scary things of the past, face them and move forward. This in turn provides individuals with the ability to make choices for themselves that are positive and that move their lives in a positive direction.

At Cenikor, we believe that treatment is three-fold and consists of counseling to heal and grow on the emotional level, behavioral to learn how to change negative behaviors to enable individuals to make positive choices, and occupational to provide an avenue for individuals to contribute to society and make a living wage. If you would like further information, please visit our website at or contact us at 888-236-4567. We are happy to help.

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