Recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction involves far more than just stopping all substance use and abuse. Drugs and alcohol will co-opt every part of an addict’s life, including relationships with friends and family, careers, and physical and mental health and well-being. Addicts who progress through a typical 28-day detox and rehab program often find themselves exiting those programs only to face greater struggles to recapture their lives. Recovering a sense of self-esteem can be the greatest of those struggles.
Recovering Your Self-Esteem
An addict’s sense of self-esteem will suffer when he feels a crushing sense of guilt for his actions that led to his addiction. Successful long-term addiction recovery will require an addict to assume responsibility for both his illness and his recovery from that illness, but that responsibility need not devolve into guilt. Addicts can use several different tools and techniques to recapture their self-esteem.
As trite as they may seem, positive affirmations have been shown to be clinically effective in boosting self-esteem for all individuals, and not just recovering addicts. Counselors suggest keeping a bedside journal to record at least three positive things every evening before going to sleep, and then rereading those things the following morning. Counselors also regularly remind addicts not to be too hard on themselves, and to expect that they will have emotional highs and lows as they proceed through their recovery programs. Recovering self-esteem can be a simple matter of maintaining realistic expectations of the recovery process.
Goals & Participation
Goal-setting is an important tool to build self-esteem. Counselors instruct addicts to set short-term, realistic goals that are easy to measure. A goal can be as simple as making it through a day without getting angry or anxious about missing drinking or using drugs. Goal setting will also push a recovering addict to focus on the positive aspects of his life and to keep any negative feelings in better perspective.
Participation in recovery groups will also help a recovering alcoholic’s or addict’s self-esteem. Other recovering addicts in those groups will have a deeper understanding of a recovering addict’s travails. Group interactions are almost universally devoid of adverse judgments that might impair a recovering addict’s efforts to build a new and greater sense of self-worth.
Recovering addicts will also benefit from regular counseling and therapy to delve deeper into causes of any problems they might have experienced. Drug addiction and alcoholism often go hand-in-hand with depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Treating an addiction problem without simultaneously treating those other disorders can be a recipe for failure and further loss of self-esteem.
Recovering from addiction and regaining a new sense of life and value requires time and patience.
The Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, has helped a countless number of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to break their addictions and to develop their self-esteem to allow them to reconnect with their worlds. Please call us at 512-360-3600 for a confidential consultation and for more information on how we can help you in your own recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.