How to Find Self-Worth After Addiction

August 21, 2023

4 mins

Never Alone Recovery


One of the effects of addiction is how it can hurt your sense of self-worth. When addiction is perceived as a personal failure, you tend to blame yourself. This can develop into low self-esteem.

One of the effects of addiction is how it can hurt your sense of self-worth. When you perceive your addiction as a failure on your part, you cannot help but blame yourself. Over time, this can develop into a sense of shame and low self-esteem. 

Because it can destroy your sense of self-worth, addiction can be even more challenging to recover from. That’s why recovery is more than just moving on from substance abuse. Self-worth recovery is important too. 

Effect of Poor Sense of Self-Worth in Recovery

A summary of eighteen different studies found that the public holds very stigmatizing views towards people struggling with substance abuse disorder. This stigmatization can lead to a sense of shame. As someone struggling with substance abuse sees him or herself failing, he or she will feel guilty and internalize a negative self-perception. This can make the shame stronger, leading to a person self-sabotaging and returning to substance abuse. 

The negative thinking that accompanies this shame can include when a person believes that he or she will not be capable of living life without using or worries that he or she is so damaged by addiction that recovery is impossible.

Another common pattern of negative thinking is fear, which can include:

  • A fear of not measuring up.
  • A fear of being judged.
  • A fear of feeling like a fraud and being discovered.
  • A fear of not knowing how to live in the world without drugs or alcohol.
  • A fear of success.
  • A fear of relapse.

However, a negative self-image has no reason to stick around. Taking various actions to regain one’s sense of worth is far healthier than wallowing in shame.

Work on Self-Care

For example, you could improve your self-care to regain a sense of self-worth. People in recovery tend to be hard on themselves, but this cruelty can lead to relapse. Daily self-care can help a person heal from the demands of life. It includes being aware of emotional distress and exhaustion and taking steps to support oneself.

Self-care is when you live well, taking time to improve both your physical and mental health. It can look very different depending on who is doing the caring, but either way will help manage stress, lower the risk of illness, and increase energy. Self-care can be small lifestyle changes, like getting regular exercise, eating healthy, sleeping well, and reaching out to loved ones. In fact, eating regular, healthy meals and drinking plenty of water can improve energy and focus

“Instead of punishing yourself, take the time to appreciate how far you have come and the people around you.”

Self-care can also be more in your mindset. You can focus on the positive parts of your life, noting what you are grateful for and doing what you enjoy. Instead of punishing yourself, take the time to appreciate how far you have come and the people around you. Whatever you do, taking the time to focus on what makes you happy will go a long way to increase your sense of self-worth.

Join a Self-Help Group

Self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or other twelve-step programs have been proven to help individuals overcome the guilt and shame of addiction. While recovery may seem lonely, you can find a community in a self-help group and learn that you are not alone. You can also see what recovery looks like, learn coping skills from others, and have somewhere safe without judgment to talk through your struggles. 

Exercise More

Another way to increase self-esteem is by engaging in regular activity. Exercise can improve physical and mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. It also positively affects the same reward systems in the brain as substance abuse. 

To implement exercise into your life, you do not have to go overboard or become a health nut overnight. Even just thirty minutes of walking daily can boost a person’s mood and improve his or her health. Overall, this helps a person to feel better about him or herself.

Give Yourself Forgiveness

Finally, make sure to forgive yourself for struggling in the first place. Without this crucial step, it will be far easier to self-sabotage and return to substance abuse. Addressing the thought processes and negative self-perception that can keep you addicted is just as important as taking care of your body. When you can forgive yourself, you can move forward, and see your own self-worth again.

The Good of Regaining Self-Worth

There are many strategies for improving your sense of self-worth. Whether you are changing your mentality or lifestyle, you are working to forgive yourself. While you might feel as though you don’t deserve to feel good, a sentiment echoed by respondents struggling with addiction in one 2015 study, putting aside that sense of guilt and allowing yourself to feel good won’t just help you to forgive yourself. It will also help to keep you from relapsing and to live a normal, fulfilling life.

Keep Your Chin Up With Never Alone Recovery

Even when you are trapped in negative thought patterns of shame, you can still address and improve your sense of self-worth. Taking care of your mental and physical health, seeking a community, and being kind to yourself can go a long way in helping you recover.

But self-worth is only one aspect of addiction recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse disorder, then Never Alone Recovery can help. With a free online support group and help with drug rehab placement, we can get you in touch with helpful recovery services. Call our toll-free number today to see which of our resources could help you!

We're On Medium!

We're sharing the recovery stories of our community members. Be sure to check out Never Alone Recovery on Medium to read those featured stories.



Get Your Free Consultation Now

No matter where you are or what you're going through, send us a secure message and someone from our team will get back to you.

Check Out Our eBook
Surviving Your Loved One's Addiction


$19.95 Value
Inside spread with pullquote