Self-Esteem & Peer Pressure: Depending on Drugs & Alcohol to Feel Different
Self-esteem is one of the biggest factors in determining how successful we are in any given endeavor. How you judge yourself can determine whether you go out for a team or try anything else where you have to put yourself out there.
Low self-esteem can cause people not to realize their full potential and can lead to other serious issues such as depression and substance abuse. Low self-esteem might manifest as believing there is something wrong with oneself. Maybe the person feels as though anything he or she says is stupid. Or, perhaps the person feels as though they look bad, no matter what they do.
Many people struggle with self-image and self-worth. When your sense of self-worth is diminished, feeling uncomfortable, especially in social situations, is common. Some degree of social anxiety is normal, however, when you cannot feel comfortable around others for the majority of the time, you may have a problem with self-esteem.
Most turn to substances to fix their social anxiety. Drugs and alcohol have long been the synthetic fix to such problems. Alcohol, commonly referred to as “liquid courage” and drugs with their various nicknames all aim to do the same thing — ease the people’s anxiety and pain and make them feel like they belong.
The problem with using substances in place of self-worth is that the more you rely on substances, the less personal strength you have to handle stressful situations. Mood and mind-altering substances are highly addictive, both physically and mentally. The more you use the more you need, and soon enough, a vicious cycle is born.
The pressure to fit in with the cool group also contributes to the development of a substance abuse disorder down the road. It seems that the pressure to fit in with peers while in school is just part of life and growing up to some degree. However, when fitting in means self-destructive behaviors, the situation can veer away from common experience to the beginning of one’s downfall.
Swimming in Active Addiction: Substance Abuse and Self-worth
When you are drinking and having fun, everyone wants to be around you. You’re the life of the party. Your identity and social position are intrinsically connected to your using.
So, naturally, you feel like you have to drink or use to be accepted. You accept this role and continuously drink or use as you think you should. Drinking and using at parties on the weekend might spread to earlier times in the day and week.
Eventually, you might realize that you only feel like “yourself” when you are using. Your time sober is spent waiting for the time when you won’t be.
You begin to depend on the substances more and more for freedom from self and from reality. You need substances more and more. Most likely, this progression doesn’t alarm you as much as it should.
As you realize your dependence on the substance, your self-worth goes away. It no longer means anything good that you are using. You don’t see yourself as cool, but instead as parasitic.
The only way you ever experienced relief from such low self-worth was the substance you abused, so you think that there is no answer and no happy ending for you.
You delve more into the party scene — more drugs, more sex, more abuse. You do what you need to get the next fix. And nothing, no task seems beneath you since you are just a slave to the substance.
When someone tells you that you matter to him or her and that they need you to perform sex acts for money you happily oblige thinking that you can do something good for someone at least. Never realizing that you are being used and abused by the substance and others taking advantage of your situation.
The drugs and alcohol own you and you feel as useful as an insect.
Substance Use Treatment: Healing the Mind and Soul
Some look at substances as the way in which they buried hurtful emotions and memories. Sometimes, the painful memories arrived after the using started — sometimes before. However, using and past trauma almost always go hand in hand.
When a person stops using and gets clean and sober, the guilt, shame, and remorse can hit like floodwaters. This may seem like something to avoid at all costs, however, the contrary is true. These issues will only get worse and more painful the longer they are avoided. In some cases, the fear of confronting the past is worse than actually working through the issue.
At the core of this pain is the belief that you should have been different and that the person you were and are is not good enough. Find the courage to forgive yourself, and the pain will fall away like the leaves in fall. You are perfect just the way you are.
Self-esteem and self-image are critical to your successful recovery from addiction and self-defeating behaviors. Treatment centers work with each client to identify the core issues plaguing their self-esteem and desire to use.
This is your chance to find the you that you love, respect, and cherish. It is not an impossible or unworthy task. You are just as important as everyone else. We hope that you will take a chance on yourself and find the inner peace and love that heals all wounds.