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Self-Esteem and Recovery: What Works

Posted on :  April 14th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Recovering from drug addiction can be a debilitating experience. After being released from a drug program, many recovering addicts feel worthless and low. This lack of self-esteem can actually become a trigger to relapse, which is exactly what recovering addicts do not need in their lives. Instead, they need to recognize that what they are going through during recovery is normal and that there are methods to build self-esteem. These boosts in self-esteem can make the recovery process easier and more successful.

Here are some tips to build self-esteem when recovering from addictions:

  1. Recognize the recovery takes time. There is no magic pill to make recovery happen immediately. Simply being sober one day at a time should be good enough. Most recovering addicts are hard on themselves, while people on the outside are actually very proud of the recovering addict’s accomplishments.
  2. Highs and lows will occur. Life is not a straight line. It is full of ups and down. There will be moments when great things occur and there will be moments when not-so-great things occur. No one can control what happens around them, but they can control their reactions to those occurrences. Accepting the ups and downs are part of recovery; sober people have them, too.
  3. Boosting self-esteem cannot be done with outside forces. Of course, people feel good when they receive compliments, but self-esteem should not come from outside sources. It can only come from within. Those compliments will only last a brief moment, but self-esteem needs to happen when ups and downs occur. Recovering addicts need to know they have everything they need on the inside is the key to boosting self-esteem.
  4. Enjoy the small things. Reaching sobriety is not a massive moment. It comes in little moments, much like life itself. If triggers occur, recovering addicts should look to the little successes so they do not succumb to fallbacks. Each breath in sobriety is a good thing and breathing is about as small as it gets.
  5. Emotions are not failures. While the good days feel great, the bad days can be devastating for recovering addicts. It is ok to feel bad about things and it is important not to treat bad feelings as failures. Emotions occur and recovering addicts need to learn how to recognize them, accept them, and move on. Dwelling on negative emotions only creates more bad feelings.
  6. Look for the good things. Recovering addicts often find themselves in a painful state of mind. Instead of staying there all of the time, it is helpful to find a way to look at the positives. Instead of focusing on the problems with recovery, it is important to look for the good things occur. Those small good things can make a big difference in success and sobriety.
  7. Avoid negative self-talk. This is a guaranteed way to feel horrible, so it is a good idea to avoid it all of the time. To avoid self-talk, it is helpful to recognize it and then stop thinking about it.
  8. Reset mindset. This is a relatively new topic in the world of recovery. The most helpful mindset is the growth mindset, which helps people learn from experiences. Curiosity can build self-esteem because learning can be exciting. A stagnant mindset can create negative thoughts, simply because there is no desire to move away from them.
  9. Find positive people and spend time with them. Being surrounded with positive people will change the way a recovering addict thinks about life. Seeing positivity creates positivity. Self-esteem will increase simply because the addict learns how to be positive by the people who are caring, loving, and supportive.
  10. Get moving. Self-esteem boosts when people get active. The endorphin rise is a sure fire way to feel great.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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