Different people have different levels of self esteem – some people think they’re wonderful, some people think they’re worthless. Whether other people would agree with either of those judgements is a different matter.
People with alcohol problems often have low self-esteem. They judge themselves negatively – not just for their addiction, but also for other parts of their behaviour or their personality.
These beliefs or views about the self may have been picked up as far back as childhood, from parents, siblings, or friends –
- “you’re not good enough to deserve that treat”,
- “you don’t measure up to our expectations”,
- “you don’t deserve love and affection”,
- “we don’t accept you for who you are”,
- “why are you so much trouble, what’s wrong with you”.
Of course such things may not have been said literally, but that may have been the message being conveyed. These messages become incorporated into our beliefs about ourselves, and affect our self esteem. As such they can be quite difficult beliefs to change.
When you have such negative thoughts about yourself, you probably won’t be very capable in dealing with life or coping with the difficult feelings that we all have. So you might then tend to turn to something which does deal with those feelings, if only temporarily. From there you can come to rely on those things – alcohol, drugs, food, whatever it might be.
Then of course, the dependent use of alcohol can further damage self esteem and reinforce those negative beliefs. “I’m an alcoholic now too – so I must be really useless then”. Alcoholism or addiction can lead to social isolation, or uncontrolled behaviour, alienating those around you and maybe removing any possible positive feedback or encouragement, making it even more difficult to improve your confidence again.
However, what often happens with friends and family, is that the issue of concern for them becomes the alcohol use itself, rather than the lack of self esteem that’s causing it in the first place.
Try our self esteem test if you’d like.