We can all feel down about ourselves from time to time, but when your self-esteem and self-worth are too low, it may be more consequential than you realize. Especially if you are new to addiction recovery and feeling vulnerable, learning how to increase self-esteem in addiction recovery could help you in more ways than one.
How Low Self-Esteem Can Lead to Substance Use and Relapse in Recovery
Low self-esteem is connected to a higher risk of addiction.1 People who have a poor self-image and are insecure may turn to drugs or alcohol to lower their inhibitions or to escape negative thoughts. Because of this relationship, people in recovery from addiction are likely already starting from the bottom when it comes to their self-esteem and self-worth. Although it can make you feel better, that is not the only reason increasing self-esteem after addiction is important. Low self-esteem in recovery can also be connected to relapse. A study on veterans with addiction found that using hypnosis significantly improved self-esteem and consequently decreased relapse rates.2 Adolescents with low self-esteem and struggling with substance use also have a higher rate of relapse.3
How to Build Self-Esteem in Addiction Recovery
While co-occurring disorder treatment could help you address some of these issues in rehab, improvements will not happen magically overnight. It is important to continue to focus on building your confidence after addiction and learning to love yourself in recovery after your program ends. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to move this process along and give yourself a better chance of long-term success in recovery. Some of the best ways of increasing self-esteem in recovery include:
- Forgiving your past mistakes
- Focusing on the positive
- Practicing self-care
- Continuing treatment
- Practicing positive affirmations
- Building a positive support system
Forgiving Past Mistakes
You will never be able to boost your self-esteem in recovery if you don’t let go of the past. Many people do things they are not proud of when they are inactive addiction, but other than making amends, there is likely not a lot you can do about it now. Forgive yourself and look toward a bright future.
Focusing on the Positive
Although you may have a still way to go before you get to where you want to be, it is important to focus on the positives and the progress you already made. Getting sober is a huge step; acknowledge it. When you start to focus on your growth and the good in your life, instead of getting bogged down by negative thoughts, building self-esteem after addiction will come naturally.
It is hard to feel good about yourself when you aren’t taking care of yourself. Increasing self-esteem in recovery may be as simple as putting time aside for more self-care. Exercising, eating healthy, and following a good sleep routine can help you feel better physically and mentally which can consequently boost self-esteem in sobriety. Similarly, self-care could help you repair the damage left behind from addiction to your physical appearances such as sores, track marks, or dental health problems. When you look good you feel good.
Your care shouldn’t end when you leave an inpatient drug rehab. Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey and in order to continue to see progress and growth, you likely need continued care. Continuing therapy at home and becoming involved in the recovery community can help you continue to improve self-esteem after addiction.
Practicing Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can go a long way in improving self-esteem and self-love in recovery. Whether you choose to say them aloud or write them down in a place you will see regularly, take time each day to practice positive affirmations. It may feel awkward at first and you may not even fully believe them, but eventually, that will change.
Building a Positive Support System
Besides going through this journey on your own, another way to boost self-esteem in recovery is to find a positive support group. Now is the time to not only break away from people with who you used to drink or do drugs with but also those who are unsupportive. Instead, focus on creating healthy relationships with people who build you up, not tear you down. When those around you support and speak positively of you, it is easier to love yourself. Recovery is a lifelong journey. If you are struggling to get started or recently relapsed, we are here. Our Ohio drug rehab provides comprehensive care for people looking to overcome addiction and build a foundation for long-term sobriety.