Low self esteem and drug and alcohol addiction

Self esteem and addiction go hand in hand. Low self esteem is considered the number one factor for causing a drug or alcohol addiction.

Most people with a drug or alcohol addiction, or people who are at risk for developing an addiction, have a low self esteem. Psychologists have come up with four causes of low self esteem that people have to deal with.

The Main Four Causes

Personal Stability

A person may feel like they have no stability in their life, or self created stability. Most of the time these people feel as if they have no control over their own life and things are not stable.


A person who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol may feel like they are insignificant, especially in the eyes of others. They may feel like there is a lack of attention and affection from other people.

Bad Person

A person who has low self esteem may feel like they are not ethically or morally a good person. They may feel like they are unloved, unappreciated, and unwanted. As a result, they conclude that they must not be a good person and therefore, are not worthy of love and appreciation.


People who have a low self esteem often hold themselves as being incompetent in one or more areas in life. They may feel like they are unable to maintain any control of their life. Because of this, they can be easily dominated by other people, who they perceive as being more capable and powerful.

The Challenge of Low Self Esteem

When a person is challenged by one of these, they may not only feel a lack of self esteem, but they may also feel a sense of anger, loneliness, and depression. A person may begin to have difficulty in communicating and have several social conflicts. These can cause even lowered self esteem, and other problems. The person may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape their feelings and problems.

Drugs or alcohol may seem to help them so they continue to use, eventually they develop a tolerance, then a dependence, and then an addiction. Their feelings and their problems still exist and may even be worse, especially when they have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Additional Causes of Low Self Esteem

Health and Appearance

Health and self appearance can also cause or add to low self esteem. They may feel like they are ugly, fat, too short, too tall, etc. They may have physical or mental health problems because they lack self esteem. People who are feeling fat or depressed may turn to alcohol or drugs to make them skinnier or feel happier, and developing addiction is a consequence.


People who have income difficulties and see themselves as struggling to survive may feel inadequate to keep up in the world, as they feel it is very competitive and most people are more successful than them. They may try to compete for their wealth, and fail. As a result, their self esteem plummets.


Those who have low self esteem may struggle with their occupation. They may lack education, skills, or the belief that they are able to obtain a good job. They may feel like no one wants to hire them. They may also feel that they should not continue with their education, because they are incapable of passing exams, studying, or completing homework assignments.


A person who has low self esteem and has a drug or alcohol addiction or is at risk for developing an addiction normally has problems with relationships. Many of these people come from abusive or dysfunctional families. As a result, they decide in their own mind that they are not capable of creating nurturing and positive relationships.

Those who have low self esteem are normally driven by their self destructive moods; such as, anger, fear, sadness, and doubt. These emotional drives cause the person to continue to damage their relationships. They will begin to blame the people in their life for their feelings, and this causes them to have a hard time maintaining relationships.

Talents and Hobbies

People who have a low self esteem are normally not in touch with any talents that they may have, or lose touch with any hobbies or pursuits that they once had. This make them feel worthless or not valuable in society or in their home.

Trying to Numb the Pain or Escape Everyday Life

Those who have low self esteem may turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to numb the pain and escape their everyday life. They see drugs or alcohol as a temporary release from any suffering, bad feelings, and problems that they are having.

The person may see drugs or alcohol as the only way to escape, and if they continue to use, addiction will follow. This escape or blocking of their pain is not permanent. In fact, addiction to drugs or alcohol will only create more problems. The addict will become incapable of overcoming their challenges that originally made them want to use. As their addiction worsens, their self esteem will become less and less. What was once an issue of self esteem has now turned into an addiction to drugs or alcohol and a life that is spiraling out of control.

We See the Connection

Here at The Cabin Chiang Mai, we see the relationship between self esteem and drug and alcohol addictions. Therefore, an essential part of our treatment is giving our patients the knowledge and tools needed to improve self esteem.

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