A negative self-image is directly linked to low self-esteem, which greatly contributes to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. A person’s self-image is the overall picture she has of herself, including the extent of her abilities, ideas, opinions, looks, attractiveness and worth.
When someone has a negative self-image, she typically believes that she is unattractive, cannot do anything right, is unable to excel in anything and that her opinions do not matter. Furthermore, self-image is also directly linked to weight, wealth and social status, so these factors affect self-image. Ergo, if someone deems herself overweight, poor and without friends, then she will likely have a negative self-image.
A person’s self-image is affected by how he sees himself, how others see him and how he thinks others see them. The problem with self-image is that it is subjective, so it depends upon who is influencing it. Regardless of its causes or its accuracy, a negative self-image correlates with low self-esteem, which often leads to substance abuse and addiction.
The Cabin Mai Rehab suggests that low self-esteem comes from four main sources, including having instability in life, feeling insignificant, feeling like a bad person and feeling incompetent. Some people feel as though their lives are out of their control and that their stability as a responsible adult is wavering. When a person believes that her life is seemingly out of her control, then she may give up in a way that can significantly lower her self-esteem and self-image. This instability will only increase when drugs and alcohol are introduced, even though they provide a temporary high that seems to boost self-esteem.
Other people struggle with feeling insignificant, especially to others, which causes them to have a skewed self-image. Certain people feel the need for significant attention or affection from others, so, when they do not receive what they deem as an adequate amount of interaction, then they develop a negative self-image. Furthermore, when someone believes that other people do not like or care for him, then he may abuse drugs and/or alcohol used to numb his pain. Eventually, the drugs and alcohol are the only things that comfort him, so he may quickly develop an addiction.
Whether it is from internal thoughts or outside sources, some people simply believe that they are not good or moral people. A view like this is often directly linked to alcohol abuse and drug addiction. A person may have experiences where others tell her that she is bad or worthless, so she may eventually believe these messages. In some cases, this situation can cause people to drink themselves to death, as this drug can temporarily release people from their negative feelings about themselves.
Some people who struggle with negative self-image and low self-esteem often feel generally incompetent or incapable in life. These feelings often cause them to avoid new activities or to try halfheartedly at new tasks. Drugs and alcohol can seem like the only ways that can make negative feelings disappear.
Overcoming a negative self-image and low self-esteem is essential not only for reaching recovery, but also for maintaining it long term. AlcoholRehab.com states that people who do not overcome low self-esteem in recovery will struggle to find happiness and eventually revert back to drug or alcohol abuse. A recovering addict must value himself above the temporary feeling that drugs and alcohol can provide. Addiction recovery is not simply about stopping the use of drugs and alcohol and returning to a seemingly normal life; instead, recovery is about building a better life, one that is full of happiness and opportunities. If a recovering addict does not learn to value himself, then he will not find lasting success away from drug and alcohol abuse.
Building a Positive Self-Image
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains how to raise self-esteem and to build a better self-image. First, pay close attention to personal needs to rebuild a better self-image. Exercise is not always the easiest task, and many people simply believe it is too hard. However, exercise pays off, and it slowly changes people’s self-images for the better. It gives people more natural energy as they continue to engage in it, so they will eventually feel healthier and more capable.
Furthermore, eating healthy foods is also important, as unhealthy foods basically cancel out what the exercise accomplishes. Lastly, engaging in enjoyable activities, completing a task that has been left undone for a long time, dressing in enjoyable clothing, spending quality time with other people and being nice to others are all ways to raise self-esteem and to build a better self-image.