Self Esteem and addiction go hand in hand. Low self esteem is considered the number one factor for causing a drug and alcohol addiction!
There is a concept in my profession referred to as co-occurring disorders indicating a connection between substance abuse problems and mental health conditions. It is my opinion that both of these disorders exist with the addict and alcoholic. I believe that all individuals who suffer from a substance abuse or dependency problems have a mental health condition. I believe further that the mental health condition is the primary or fundamental problem for the addict or alcoholic.
It is also my belief that both of these conditions have to be treated, the substance abuse issue and the mental health problem. Many people in the drug treatment industry minimize or deny the existence of a mental health condition. What happens when this is done is that the client will become abstinent from drugs and alcohol only to relapse quickly after treatment because the underlying mental health condition was not adequately dealt with and treated. The treatment of the mental health problem is something that is absolutely necessary for the well being and recovery of the addict and alcoholic.
While many addicts and alcoholics experience a great deal of anxiety and the underlying emotion of fear, I believe that depression and dysthymia are the primary mental health conditions and diagnoses that form the cornerstone of their drug and alcohol problem. One of the symptoms of major depression and dysthymia is poor self esteem. It is my opinion that poor self esteem is the root of the substance abuse and dependency disorder. It is also one of the symptoms that is not given a great deal of importance or even acknowledged in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.
It is also my opinion that until we recognize, acknowledge and begin to treat the problem of poor self esteem that addicts and alcoholics will continue to relapse and in many cases even die. At the basis of the addict and alcoholic's poor self esteem is a negative self image, negative thoughts and beliefs about their worth and value as a human being. It has been my experience that every addict or alcoholic that I have worked with have serious issues with their self image even if in the beginning of their treatment they deny its existence.
It is my recommendation that if you are looking for a treatment program for someone who has a substance abuse and dependency problem that you insist that there are master's level, licensed and trained therapists on staff to adequately counsel and treat mental health problems. This particular requirement is crucial to the addict and alcoholic receiving appropriate care and treatment. When researching a potential residential or outpatient treatment center simply ask the administration of the center for the qualifications of the therapists and counselors that provide all of the counseling services to addicts and alcoholics.
Dr. Harry Henshaw
I believe that a negative self image and the poor self esteem that is caused by our negative perception of our value and worth as a human being is the primary cause of drug and alcohol addiction. It is not the drugs or alcohol that is the problem, it never has been. The real cause of drug and alcohol addiction will not be found in any other person, place or thing but only inside the addict or alcoholic.
When we consciously decide to focus on helping addicts and alcoholics to transform their self image, then and only then will be we start to find authentic solutions to the drug and alcohol problems and epidemic that we are experiencing today in this country. Until we help the addict and alcohol look inside and learn to heal their relationship with the man or woman in the mirror things will continue to be the same.
Individuals who authentically respect, accept and love themselves will not use drugs and alcohol. The real solution to drug and alcohol addiction is to help addicts and alcoholic learn how to respect, accept and love themselves as they are now, to let go of their belief that they are not good enough and as a result of this work to stop using drugs and alcohol.
Drug and alcohol addiction is not a physical disorder so much as it is primarily a thought disorder. The real addiction is to a way of thinking, a way of thinking that tells you that you are not good enough, that you are inferior. The solution to drug and alcohol addiction is to be found only in a transformation of the addict and alcoholic's thinking and specifically in their thinking about who they believe they are as a human being.
Dr. Harry Henshaw
In order for an addict or alcoholic to be successful in their recovery I believe there are 5 things that need to be worked on. Self-Esteem, Building a Recovery Program, Anxiety/Stress Management, Independence vs. Co-dependence and Daily Planning. Addressing these 5 areas forces an addict or alcoholic to confront the things about themselves that weren’t working, while giving them the opportunity to re-create themselves into the person they want to be, for the life they want to live. These 5 things are a huge undertaking that require the help of qualified and understanding individual, such as a counselor and a sponsor.
The death toll from drug overdoses continues to rise all across our country as a result of the epidemic we are currently facing. Authorities project that the problem will continue to escalate with no end in sight. The shocking statistics and heartbreaking stories that are coming out leave one asking, “What is being done to begin to stop this epidemic?”