Many people suffering from low self esteem turn to drugs to alleviate the feelings associated with low self worth. Feelings of inadequacy, poor self image, and inability to cope with the demands of day-to-day life prove too much, and a means of escape is sought. Apart from my own personal experience, I have met many addicts whose decline into addiction was the result of this ‘self-medicating’ attempt to feel, and appear ‘normal’.

People with low self esteem do not value themselves, but that does not mean they do not value other people. Typically, they will help others at their own expense because they place more value on them than they do on themselves, i.e. other's needs are greater than theirs.

Unfortunately, the lifestyle of an addict necessitates that the needs of the addiction are placed above those of themselves and others, including those who are closest to them such as family and friends. The effect of this neglect is a further lowering of self esteem as this behaviour conflicts with their moral and ethical codes. Yes, addicts are subject to morals and ethics despite popular belief!

The longer a person is actively addicted, the greater the negative impact on self esteem which in turn perpetuates the need to ‘self-medicate’. This trap is not easy to escape from but with the right guidance it is possible to re-build self esteem. In order to increase one's self esteem, one needs to do estimable things.

We all have basic human needs, and the best way to increase self esteem is to ensure those needs are met. These needs will not be met simply by thinking about them, or by someone else's intervention or your behalf. There is no secret to raising self esteem; it is not off limits to some people, including drug addicts and alcoholics.

Our self esteem improves naturally as a by-product of our efforts to ensure our basic human needs are met.

‘Efforts’ is the key word here. Achieving a healthy lifestyle requires considerable and sustained effort in the basic human needs department. Some of the basic human needs are listed here:

• The need for a sense of control
• The need to look after your body
• The need to give and receive attention
• The need for creativity and stimulation
• The need for meaning, purpose and goals
• The need for a sense of safety and security
• The need for intimacy and a connection to others
• The need for a sense of status and recognition from others
• The need for a connection to something greater than ourselves

Many people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction relapse because not enough attention is paid to this most crucial of areas. Addicts and alcoholics who have stopped using drugs and drinking alcohol need to re-build their self esteem and self image as a matter of urgency if relapse is to be avoided.

Counselling and or therapy can be useful in helping to identify the specific areas needing most attention, but it must be remembered that the footwork is the responsibility of the individual. It is simply not enough in itself just to sign up for a few counselling or therapy sessions.

Author's Bio: 

Ray Baker is the founder of the UK's National Addiction Treatment & Rehabilitation Directory which is hosted by UK Drug Rehab.

Helping people with drug and alcohol problems to access drug and Alcohol Rehab services.