After an alcohol or drug detox, a person who struggles with substance abuse disorder will face a plethora of emotions and difficulties. To reach and maintain long-term sobriety, however, they must acknowledge and face these feelings and challenges as they arise.
One of the biggest hurdles that those in recovery face is low self-esteem. Essentially, this is the way an individual feels about themselves. Because alcohol and drugs drastically affect a person’s behaviors, moods, and personality, it can be hard to adjust to the seemingly different personalities that one encounters when substances are no longer contributing.
As a result, low self-esteem can exacerbate existing problems and make it more difficult to stay sober. For optimal success with sobriety, a focus on building self-esteem is an essential part of the long journey to recovery.
If you’re struggling with staying sober, reach out to Olympus Treatment Centers to learn about the options available to you.
Low-Self Esteem May Contribute to Substance Abuse
In many cases, people with substance abuse disorders first turned to drugs or alcohol to numb their emotions or decrease the symptoms of mental disorders. Often referred to as “self-medicating,” these substances may provide temporary relief from matters like low self-esteem. While the user may experience an inflated sense of self or feel better about their personalities while under the influence, the problem itself is never addressed.
When these problems are pushed to the side, they can become worse as the individual becomes dependent on various substances. As they get deeper into their addictions, self-esteem plummets, and failed attempts at sobriety or getting into legal trouble continue to add to the problem. This creates a perpetual cycle that must be broken for the individual to progress and make strides in their recovery.
A dual-diagnosis treatment plan, such as the ones offered at Olympus Treatment Centers, may be ideal for those who believe they are suffering from a mental health disorder in addition to a substance abuse disorder.
Forgiveness After Drug Detox is Key
During active addiction, it’s common for addicts to do things they otherwise would not. Because their bodies are physically addicted to their substance of choice, they may resort to illegal activities to get their fix and keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Some of the actions and decisions made by addicts are hard for them to face once they undergo drug detox and regain their sobriety. They often blame themselves for their addictions and the pain that their families and friends have endured as a result of the addiction.
While it’s important to take responsibility for one’s actions, it’s equally important to understand that addiction is a disease. These actions were the result of an addiction and do not define the individual’s worth. By continuing to dwell on these matters, instead of looking ahead to the future, recovery can be inhibited as the person may feel tempted to numb the unwanted feelings of guilt or shame. Instead, a person struggling with a substance abuse disorder should begin their journey to recovery by focusing on understanding addiction and forgiving themselves.
Find New Friends
When struggling with addiction, it’s common to lose touch with old friends and form new friendships with those who are also active in a state of addiction. These friendships are often convenient during addiction and may seem more intense than others because of the shared addiction. Unfortunately, it’s tough (if not impossible) to maintain friendships with those who remain in a state of addiction while focusing on sobriety and recovery. This can make it feel as if all friendships have been lost, which can lead to an increased sense of loneliness and depression.
One of the best ways to build self-esteem in the beginning stages of recovery or after a drug detox is to form new friendships. These friends should be supportive of sobriety and recovery and non-judgemental. They can be crucial in helping to meet new people, find new hobbies, and stay on track. All these factors will also help build self-esteem over time.
Keep a Positive Affirmations Journal During and After Drug Detox
A positive affirmations journal is an effective way to identify feelings and emotions, while also reframing them into more positive thoughts. While this may sound fairly simple, it’s extremely helpful in retraining one’s brain to take a more optimistic approach to life instead of a pessimistic one.
In terms of self-esteem, a person who is struggling to stay sober may write that they feel weak because they experienced an urge to use their substance of choice. Instead of repeating this thought in their head, they acknowledge the initial thought in writing, and then work to see it in a more positive light. For example, an initial thought may express feelings of weakness because of the craving. The positive affirmation, however, would instead focus on the strength of the individual for not giving in to the craving. Over time, this can drastically improve a person’s self-esteem after drug detox.
Try New Things
The road to recovery is full of firsts. A person in recovery may try counseling or therapy for the first time. They might also accept prescribed medications to treat mental conditions for the first time. Trying new things is essential to success after a drug detox because the process helps to identify which methods are effective and which are not.
The same goes for trying new hobbies, foods, or other activities. Exploring many alternatives may uncover certain strengths or talents that might not have been discovered previously. All these tactics help build a strong sense of self.
Learn to Be Okay Alone
After completing a drug detox or monitored rehab program, the thought of being alone can be scary for a newly sober person (as well as for their loved ones). They may feel they lack control to remain sober, or as if they need constant company to keep their minds off of the addiction. While this can be helpful in the initial stages, eventually a person in recovery must learn to be okay when they are alone.
A person who fears they will relapse or make mistakes when left alone may have extremely low self-esteem after drug detox. To achieve this feat, small steps should be taken to regain independence and rebuild a positive self-image, so that the person with a substance abuse disorder feels in control of their own life.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help When Needed After Drug Detox
Overcoming a substance abuse disorder is one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. One of the most detrimental actions in the earliest days of recovery is simply expecting too much too soon. Whether the addict expects too much of themselves or feels pressure from family and friends, recovery is a journey.
Sobriety does not happen overnight after a drug detox, and some periods will be more difficult than others. In either case, it’s essential to have a supportive circle and ask for help when needed. By understanding that the process cannot be done instantly or completely alone, a solid foundation for healthy self-esteem can be laid in the earliest days of recovery.
Are you or a loved one struggling with low self-esteem after a drug detox? Understand that you are not alone, and this is a common obstacle. Contact Olympus Treatment Center today to explore all the ways we can help you on your journey to sobriety.
National Library of Medicine
University of Illinois