Low Self-Esteem Linked to Alcohol Abuse

Self-esteem is how we perceive ourselves. We all want to feel good about who we are. Those with healthy self-esteem generally like themselves and are proud of their achievements. Those with low self-esteem, however, may not genuinely like who they are and feel unhappy with themselves more often. These negative feeling can lead an individual to consume alcohol more frequently and put themselves at risk for developing an alcohol addiction.

Those with low self-esteem may feel inferior to others, may harshly judge their appearance or talents, might engage in negative self-talk (such as always saying or thinking negative things about themselves), and they might even ignore their positive qualities. Low self-esteem can be linked to depression, self-harm, drug abuse, suicidal tendencies, and even alcohol abuse.

Covering Up The Problem

Some people suffering from low self-esteem may critically evaluate themselves constantly against their peers. They may feel that they are not good enough in their appearance, their talents, or may even feel too shy to be around others. Those who have low self-esteem may turn to alcohol as a way to fit in with their peers. Alcohol may temporarily cause the individual to come out of their shell if they are shy and have low self-esteem. When they are drinking alcohol they may feel more accepted by their peers.

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Those with low self-esteem have struggled with their relationships (family, friend, romantic), emotional situations, and social and financial issues. They struggle to cope with these stressors and may turn to alcohol for a temporary fix to their problems. They are already feeling pretty badly about themselves and alcohol may temporarily cause them to numb the pain or forget about their realities for a while.

The Number One Factor

You may think that low self-esteem is only a small part of addiction. However, the number one factor causing alcohol or drug addiction is low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem may feel:

  • Inferior to others
  • Insignificant
  • Incompetent
  • Like they have lost control of their lives
  • Lonely, depressed, or anxious
  • Guilt, shame, or anger

All of these issues feed into a person’s sense of self. They may reach out to alcohol to hide their true feelings and pain. But what starts out as low self-esteem will develop into dependence and addiction to alcohol. The individual who thought that alcohol may help their problem has discovered that alcohol has made their situation much worse. Not only do they have self-esteem problems to overcome, but they also now have an alcohol addiction. This can create their lives to spiral out of control even more.

Ways That Low Self-Esteem Can Develop

Most people don’t develop a low sense of self-worth overnight. It is a gradual process that may take months or years to fully emerge. Some ways that a person may develop low self-esteem include:

  • A negative perception of body image
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Failure at school or work (or perceived failure)
  • Relationship troubles
  • Having a family history of depression or other mental illnesses
  • Financial issues
  • Comparison to a family member or friend (e.g. Why can’t I be like him/her?)
  • Chronic illness
  • Perpetual negative views regarding personal ability or appearance
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