Can Low Self-Esteem Lead to Substance Abuse?

low self esteem, substance abuseLow self-esteem, a perception that one is inadequate, unlovable, unworthy and/or incompetent, often stems from exposure to dysfunctional behavior as a child. If children bear the brunt of anger, abandonment, abuse, neglect or continual negative criticism, it can lead to feelings of low self-worth.

With little to live up to, people with chronic self-esteem issues may take on behaviors that reinforce their feelings of inadequacy, including drug use. When people use drugs or alcohol as an artificial boost to self-esteem, they’re attempting to function in situations where they lack confidence.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem:

  • Overly critical of self and others and believes others view them in the same negative ways that they view themselves.
  • Makes a big deal about comments or behavior of others they view as inappropriate or offensive.
  • Only thinks about what goes on around them in terms of their own needs and wants.
  • Excessively submissive to authority figures.

With professional help, people who suffer with low self-esteem and substance abuse issues can enhance relationships by improving their coping and communication skills. Rather than reacting to preconceived notions, each person has the ability to learn how to resolve their disagreements with others in a healthy, productive manner.

“Treatment is about rebuilding self-esteem. Thanks to Gateway, I finally saw the beauty inside me. They helped me work through issues that were too heavy for me to tackle on my own—some issues were deeply buried since childhood,” explains Christine, a 25-year-old woman who completed treatment for alcohol and drug abuse at a Gateway Center located in Carbondale, IL.

Does someone you know suffer from low self-esteem combined with substance abuse? Gateway can help get life back on track. Call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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