The idea that an addict or alcoholic has poor self esteem is rejected by many, if not most individuals in active addiction and recovery alike. Most addicts and alcoholics do not believe that any conversation about self esteem is relevant or important with respect to their drug and alcohol addiction or to their recovery. The most that may be admitted, and only by a few, is that some addicts and alcoholic have poor self esteem as the result of using drugs or alcohol. There is never a discussion about self esteem being related to the cause of their addiction to drugs and alcohol.
While I could discuss the ideational foundation of poor self esteem, that is, that the individual does not think or believe that they are good enough, the notion that there is a lack of self love is much more important conversation. While the idea that addicts and alcoholics lack self love will also be rejected by most, it is more difficult to do so especially when you relate it to the actual behavior of the individual. I believe that how I act towards or treat my body is an expression of my love towards myself. I believe that if I continue to drink alcohol and use drugs it is a clear indication that I do not authentically love myself.
I believe that addicts and alcoholics do not love themselves especially when they are in active addiction. I also believe that most addicts and alcoholics continue to have a lack of self love even when clean and sober and supposedly in recovery. Ones behavior towards oneself is the best judge of whether one loves himself or not, it does not lie. Unless a lack of self love is confronted and transformed it will continue to guide and dictate behavior and ones life in general. One has to first acknowledge that they do not love themselves in order for them to begin the work of learning how to authentically love themselves and as a result transform their life. I believe that self love is the key to recovery and transformation.
Dr. Harry Henshaw