Self-esteem is a large part of addiction. Many addicts judge themselves incapable and helpless because of addiction, a belief only providing more cause for low self-esteem. Worsening this further, addicts also often assume they do not deserve the love of those close to them and feel spiritually deficient, considering the addiction a grave transgression for which there is no forgiveness. With these various causes for poor self-esteem, it makes recovery extremely difficult. There are often deep psychological scars, too, from abuse and trauma of many kinds—sexual, psychological, and verbal. Typically, such cruelty is the worst cause because the addict holds the abuser in a place of authority or respect. Drug addiction is an inferiority complex in the extreme. Even after overcoming their addiction, low self-esteem still plagues a person. In fact, there will probably always be some remnant of it just as there will always be some remnant of addiction leftover, which is partly why addicts rarely say not recovered but recovering. It is a lifetime of work.
Yet this does not mean that substance abuse problems linked to low self-esteem can never improve. There ways of increasing confidence for an addict to help maintain sobriety. Good rehab facilities will always accentuate working on self-esteem issues as a part of an effective treatment for recovery.
In order to sustain confidence in recovery and in the self, acknowledge minor and major accomplishments by making a list and adding on to it each day. It is an effective way of building confidence in a person. Perhaps more importantly, a recovering addict should never make comparisons of their progress—or their situation in general—to other people as such behavior leads to old cycles of thinking associated with drug abuse. There is no one without problems.
Simpler things an addict can to do to improve the chances of recovery include being grateful of compliments and recognizing them as sincere. Behavioral psychology and therapy can be an immense help to someone who must relearn a lifetime of degradation from themselves and from others, and learning how to accept compliments is a great way to start finding self-confidence.
Especially in the initial stages of recovery, it is also important to maintain good, healthy relationships with people. Being around people who are positive, will have a positive effect on the recovering addict. Another simple way of improving self-esteem is exercise. Yoga, in particular, can work very well with any kind of recovery therapy. It fills the body with endorphins, keeps a recovering addict feeling healthy, and engages mindfulness. In fact, yoga has been proven to provide people with great psychological release. However, any kind of exercise will do. The most important thing about recovering self-esteem is being proactive.
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