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Low Self Esteem Issues and Addiction: Exploring the Connection

a person sadly holds their head to their knees in a windowsill

There are many reasons why a person may turn to mind-altering substances in their lives. Depression is agreed by many as one of the main causes of substance abuse. Both of these can cause low self-esteem issues, which makes it more difficult to make healthy choices.

When someone feels negative about something in their life, they seek a distraction in one form or another. Substances can not only provide that distraction, but they can also alter a person’s mental state. 

Here are the effects of serious self-esteem issues, the connection with addiction, and how to overcome them both. 

What Are Self-Esteem Issues?

The term self-esteem refers to how you see and how much value you put into yourself. People with high self-esteem don’t necessarily idolize themselves, but they do have the ability to celebrate their accomplishments in life.

Meanwhile, those with low self-esteem often feel shame and doubt about their decisions. They often criticize themselves, which can lead to other problems. It’s one of the symptoms of several mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. 

Self-esteem isn’t something that is a static state, either. It fluctuates in response to changes in your serotonin levels and life events. You can feel on top of the world one day and down in the dumps on the next. 

Serious self-esteem issues can negatively influence your everyday life, sapping your energy and altering your choices. It’s important to deal with these low self-esteem issues as well as recognize them in others. 

Hidden Signs

Low self-esteem issues aren’t always readily recognizable. It’s possible to completely miss the signs in other people until it’s too late. You may be suffering from low self-esteem at this moment and not even realize it. 

So, how can you tell if you have low self-esteem and need to get help? 

In Yourself

People suffering from low self-esteem often feel self-conscious about their bodies and lifestyle. They may second-guess the clothes they’re wearing or how they look in them.

The most common thing people feel self-conscious about is their weight. This type of issue is often propagated by the media, which pushes the idea that the only worthy bodies are thin or fit ones. It can take a long time to correct that mindset. 

You may also think obsessively about your relationships with others and how they perceive you. These thoughts can center around the idea that you’re not a fun or interesting person. Or maybe this other person pities you because you’re not as financially successful as them. 

When facing both of these issues, you then feel self-defeat which leads to chronic indecisiveness. You feel like you’ve failed already, so you don’t even try. And when you do try to change things, you’re never sure how to begin. 

In Others

With other people, you have to pay closer attention to signs of low self-esteem. They’ll be less willing to confide in friends and family but can also have a lack of boundaries. 

A person in your friend group with low self-esteem may be a people pleaser and try to always make everyone else happy. Despite that, they struggle with accepting positive feedback in turn. 

Substance use and eating disorders are some of the more obvious signs, but even those can be hidden for months or years before getting discovered. 

Effects of Low Self-Esteem

When a person has serious self-esteem issues, they may find themselves easily influenced by people and the world around them. One negative comment could be enough to ruin their entire day. It also means that they’ll seek out any way to make themselves feel better.

Drugs are one of the most common ways people try to relieve depression and anxiety. While it may help in the short term, it almost always leads to problems later on, such as addiction. 

While other factors go into drug addiction, low self-esteem can be one of the most influential. If a person doesn’t care about their own self-being, then they won’t care what substances do to their body. They may also ignore their own morals and values in doing so. 

Other issues linked to low self-esteem include self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and other impulsive actions. 

Drug Use and Your Mental Health

Substance abuse isn’t just a sign of low self-esteem. It’s can also cause further damage to your overall mental health. 

Continued use of some drugs can cause temporary and permanent changes to your brain chemistry. This can lead to paranoia, depression, aggression, and more. In the most severe cases, a person can sustain brain damage. 

Despite the risks, it’s not uncommon for people with depression or anxiety to use drugs as a coping mechanism. Marijuana can relieve both stress and physical pain, for example.

However, continued reliance on substances can drain your bank account and develop an addiction. Trying to improve your mental health is made much more difficult when you’re fighting withdrawal symptoms. 

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem Issues

Your low self-esteem issues impact every aspect of your life. It’s important to take care of your mental health, especially in the middle of a pandemic

Furthermore, getting quarantined by yourself with low self-esteem can lead to unchecked substance abuse. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re separated from your usual social circles. 

Positive reinforcement is key to fighting negative thoughts about yourself. 

Set reasonable goals for yourself so you won’t stress as much about the big picture. Practice changing those negative thoughts into more positive, constructive ones.

And surround yourself with good people who love and support you. Don’t be afraid to share your successes with them as well as when you’re feeling down. It’s okay to rely on others.

Get Help Today

As important as it is to overcome your low self-esteem issues and addiction, you don’t have to do it alone. Fighting two battles at once is a challenge for anyone. Finding treatment at a rehab center may be the answer you’re looking for.

Apex Recovery offers treatment options for various substance addictions and mental health struggles. We’re located in sunny San Diego, so you have access to a lot of sunshine and a low-stress environment. 

We don’t currently accept Medi-Cal at this time, but we do offer self-pay options. Contact us to learn more and speak with one of our friendly intake coordinators. 

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689