Contrary to popular belief, not all people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are plagued with low self-esteem. High self-esteem can cause its own unique set of problems when it comes to addiction recovery.

Where Does Self-Esteem Come From?

Self-esteem comes from experiences with people and activities. Childhood experiences play a huge factor. If you were mistreated or neglected, you are most likely to develop low self-esteem. Some of these negative childhood experiences can include:

  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Harsh criticism
  • Being ignored, teased, or ridiculed
  • Being expected to be perfect or never fail

On the flip side, healthy self-esteem can develop from:

  • Being spoken to respectfully
  • Getting appropriate attention
  • Being listened to
  • Having achievements recognized and mistakes acknowledged and accepted

Finding the right balance is very important. Our SUD almost always robs us of our self-worth, and it’s nearly impossible to have healthy self-esteem levels when we’re drinking or using. In many cases, low self-esteem is what plunges us into our addiction in the first place.

Drugs and alcohol can make us feel more confident and self-assured. In other cases, substances make us forget all about our self-esteem – but this false sense of security fades as soon as the substance wears off.

The Value System of Self-Esteem

If you have high self-esteem, that means you view yourself with high value. If you have low self-esteem, feelings of self-pity or worthlessness may play non-stop in your head. If you have very low self-esteem, you’re more vulnerable to feelings of depression, isolation, anxiety, or suicide.

You will likely find yourself in toxic or abusive relationships with friends, family, or romantic partnerships. Sometimes, people with extremely low self-esteem will become the abuser and start the cycle all over again. Either way, low self-esteem manifests in all sorts of negative ways.

Of course, the opposite can occur. People who have an overabundance of self-esteem often feel a sense of entitlement and present themselves with arrogance and ignorance. They think they know it all, which limits their ability to learn and be teachable – two things that are crucial for recovery. People with high self-esteem also tend to be more resistant to getting help, even when they need it.

If you’re ready to seek help for yourself or a loved one, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today.

Just as no two people respond to drugs or alcohol the same way, mental health concerns affect each of us differently. Some residents may have an untreated mental health disorder that prompted them to use substances to relieve their symptoms. Others may be trying to block out severe trauma or use just to get through one more day. At Alta Loma, residents learn about the role that mental health plays in their substance use so they can find the road to recovery. Call us today at (866) 457-3843.