drug and alcohol addiction

Poor Self Esteem is the Real Cause of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

We are in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in the history of this country. Everyday more and more addicts and alcoholics are dying of drug abuse and overdoes. It appears that nothing that is currently being done to help has had any positive effect on stopping or even reducing the devastation that is now taking place. The treatment industry is totally inadequate for helping with this serious social problem. I believe that we need a new paradigm that will enable us to better understand drug and alcohol addiction and as a result, allow us to develop and provide more effective, efficient treatment services. The intention of this post is to start that needed and overdue conversation.

Based on my research and clinical experience, I believe that the fundamental cause of drug and alcohol addiction is ideational in nature. The primary cause of substance abuse is to be found within the addict or alcoholic, in his thinking or thought process, not outside him. The addict and alcoholic have a core belief that they are not good enough, a belief that defines the fundamental nature of their self-image and negatively impacts every area of their life, financial, employment, relationships and health. This negative self-image produces negative feelings and poor self-esteem resulting in a lack of self-love, eventually resulting in negative physical consequences for his health and well being.

This core belief, what I refer to as the self-limiting belief, has been in existence within the addict or alcoholic for years, getting its birth between the ages of three and six. The self-limiting belief tells us that we are not good enough and is created by us from the reactions of the adults around us early in life. We are the authors of this self limiting belief and fully responsible for its origin and continued existence. The self-limiting belief was not imposed on us or caused by others. The self-limiting belief is solely of our creation, created from our perceptions of our interactions with others. This self limiting belief sets limits on what we can experience and even creates the possibility of our demise.

While we do our best to change the core belief that we are not good enough it continues to exist inside us like a deadly virus. We try our best to eradicate this belief, sometimes consciously but mostly unconsciously, by doing and having things, to be good enough in the eyes of others. Our efforts to change are mostly external, rarely internal. While we may get some temporary relief from doing and having things that make us feel good, at night when we are alone we continue to feel the existence of this self limiting belief, we continue to think and feel that we are not good enough regardless of what we have accomplished or accumulated that day or in our life. As a result of this thought process, we continue to experience this low grade depressive, anxious feeling.

Living in our society we eventually discover the existence of drugs and alcohol. When we first experience drugs and alcohol we tend to feel good as a result of using them. While we are not necessarily conscious of the fact, the using of drugs and alcohol also gives us relief from the emotional experience and impact of a negative self-image. It is at this point that we begin to form an addiction to or habitual use of drugs and alcohol to make us feel good, or at least better. Simply stated, addiction is the repetitious use of drugs and alcohol to help us to feel good and give us relief from the emotional impact and even psychic pain created by our self-limiting belief.

As stated above, we created our self-limiting belief from our perceptions of other people’s actions and behavior towards us. Having created the self-limiting belief we are also completely responsible for its existence and everything that it eventually sources or attracts into our life, including the drugs and alcohol. The self-limiting belief is like a magnet, a magnet that attracts experiences that must be a match to the self-limiting belief. If the core or our self image belief is negative it will only attach something negative in nature. As we created and are responsible for our self-limiting belief you could also state that we choose it. Creating and choosing thoughts are synonymous in this respect.

Drugs and alcohol are sourced into our lives to serve us. Initially we bring them into our lives to help us feel better and to reduce our cognitive and emotional pain produced by our negative thinking and thought process. While the self-limiting belief determines the context from which we make our decisions and choose our experiences, we are responsible for the existence of and our relationship with drugs and alcohol, for the bringing of them into our life. While a dependency on them may get created, our addictive relationship to drugs and alcohol only exists because of the existence of our self-limiting belief. When our negative self image is transformed the use of drugs and alcohol will cease. The dependency is not physical in nature but rather mental or emotional.

Now there are implications for treatment. If the cause of drug and alcohol addiction is in our thought process and specifically with our self image, what we think of our value and worth as a human being, then the individual addict or alcohol needs to transform their primary beliefs about themselves if they are to stop using drugs and alcohol. To be in recovery the addict or alcoholic has to reinvent themselves, from one that believes that he is not good enough to an individual that believes that he is perfect, whole and complete. While this sounds simple, it is not easy for the addict and alcoholic to do. Treatment programs today do not do this type of work, rather focusing only on having the client do and have certain routines and rituals that they are told will keep them clean and sober.

Unfortunately this type of approach to treatment and recovery does not work as there is no focus on the inner self image. Self esteem is not considered to be an important factor in current treatment programs. However, the primary focus of the holistic outpatient counseling services offered at Enhanced Healing Wellness Center in Miami is on helping the individual learn and implement the tools necessary for him to change and transform his thinking process, for him to eventually come to create a personal, holistic plan of accepting, respecting and loving himself. The individual has to do this work and will only do so by taking complete and full responsibility for his situation and in addition, implement what is necessary for him to change his thinking. The individual will transform himself and his life when he learns to authentically love himself. We know that the individuals that we serve have the power to change their life if they do the work.

Dr. Harry Henshaw


New Paradigm for Understanding and Treating Addiction

We need a new paradigm for understanding and treating drug and alcohol addiction.  I believe that a new paradigm must value human consciousness and not negate it.  You are more than a mechanistic, physical machine.  There is a powerful ghost inside your machine.  The new paradigm will be built on three ideas or concepts that honor the existence of your ghost.  The three beliefs that will form the foundation of the new paradigm shift will be responsibility, choice and power.

Responsibility:  I believe that you are responsible for all of your experiences.  You are responsible for everything that you think, say, feel and do.  What you give out in life will eventually come back to you.  You need to stop blaming and complaining.  No one is to blame for your condition in life.  You are not a victim.  You never have been nor will you ever be a victim.  You are completely responsible for your addiction.

Choice:  I believe that life is about choice, that you are always choosing and creating your experiences. You chose your thoughts, what you think and believe to be true and as a result you chose what you experience.  You are not your thoughts or thinking, you created or choose your thoughts and then created your experience as a result of your choices.  You choose your addiction and the using of drugs and alcohol.      

Power:  I believe that you are very powerful.  I do not believe that you are not powerless.  I believe that you have the power to create and determine your experiences and life.  You always have had this power.  You never stop having this power even when you use drugs or alcohol.  You are never powerless.  You have the power to change your thinking and as a result transform your life and end your use of drugs and alcohol.    

If you are to find a true and lasting resolution to your drug and alcohol addiction you have to come to believe that you are completely responsible for your addiction, that you choose it and that you and you alone have the power to transform your life and end your addiction forever.  Currently you want to believe that you are not responsible and that you did not choose your addiction, that your addiction is the result of something happening to you and that you are powerless.  However, your beliefs are only thoughts and thoughts can be changed, if you are open minded and willing to learn.

Dr. Harry Henshaw

Poor Self Esteem is the Real Cause of Drug Addiction

A negative self image and the poor self-esteem that it causes is the primary cause of drug and alcohol addiction. The problem is not the drugs or alcohol, it never has been. For way too long we have believed that the cause of drug and alcohol addiction is either the drugs and alcohol themselves or something physical, that is, our brain.

The real cause of drug and alcohol addiction will not be found in any other person, place or thing but only inside the individual, within his thinking. When a person consciously decides to focus on transforming his self image, on how he thinks about his value and worth as a human being, then and only then will he start to find an authentic solution to his drug and alcohol addiction problem.

Until the individual learns to heal the relationship with the man or woman in the mirror things will continue to be the same and he will continue to use drugs and alcohol to numb himself of the negative thoughts that haunt his mind. Individuals who authentically come to respect, accept and love themselves will not use drugs and alcohol.

The real solution to drug and alcohol addiction is to help an individual 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 they will come to stop using drugs and alcohol forever. Drug and alcohol addiction is not a physical disorder so much as it is primarily a thought disorder, a thought disorder that constantly tells the addict or alcoholic that they are not good enough.

The real addiction is not to drugs and alcohol but to a way of thinking, a way of thinking that tells you that you are not good enough, that you are inferior, that you do not matter. Transformation and recovery is about learning that you are good enough, that you are perfect, whole and complete and that you do matter!

Dr. Harry Henshaw


Being positive is about loving ourselves and being connected to our Higher Power!

When we are truly positive in our life, when we think and say positive things about ourselves and others, when we are sincerely grateful for what we have in our life, when we authentically acknowledge ourselves, we are in the process of loving ourselves and also, of connecting to our Source, to Spirit, our Higher Power, to God. Connecting to our Source, to Spirit, to our Higher Power, to God is about changing and transforming the trajectory of our life from fear to one of love.

When we are connected to our Source, to Spirit, to our Higher Power, to God, we are connected to our Power within us in the Now and our life becomes about creating infinite possibilities! When we get connected to our Higher Power we not only beginning to experience authentic self love but are creating the possibility of ending our drug and alcohol addiction forever. Authentically loving yourself and being connected to your Higher Power are synonymous and create the foundation for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Dr. Harry Henshaw