How to See Your Own Value
Like a tornado, addiction decimates everything in its path. Self-esteem is one area that gets hit hardest. By the time physical and psychological dependence on heroin have brought addicted individuals to their knees, they usually have scars born of humiliations—both public and private—picked up along the way. Negative thoughts keep the wounds festering. For instance, an addict may view himself as hopeless, or doubt his ability to get sober. This is why professional treatment centers target habits of pessimism and feelings of inferiority. Without an intrinsic belief in your own value, experts say, lasting sobriety is hard to achieve.
Like other aspects of recovery, healing from damage done to the core of your identity takes time. Learning to recognize your own value, however, is a good place to start the process. To learn more, read on.
Kick Addiction Myths to the Curb
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that changes brain structure and functionality. Nevertheless, deep down many addicts still view themselves as moral failures, freaks, and junkies. False beliefs run on loop in their heads, whispering lies that addicts are lazy, “bad” people who avoid taking personal responsibility, among other criticisms. Childhood experiences and stigmas originating in childhood often amplify these voices. In American society, many people learn unspoken “lessons” about addiction. Sadly, this creates obstacles that feed isolation and denial, pushing people deeper into addiction and farther away from the hope of recovery. Even once people are sober, these embedded thoughts continue to erode self-esteem.
The best way to stop the chatter in your head, practice self-acceptance, and take pride in your journey is to acquire accurate information about addiction as a disease. You are no more at fault for being an addict than is a breast cancer survivor. Practicing compassion is also helpful. Learning to treat yourself as a sick person who has courageously overcome an affliction can help you treat yourself with tenderness, care and patience.
Positive Thinking Weapons: CBT and Service Work
Another way to attack the roots of negative thoughts is to seek out a therapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapeutic approach heals emotions and stops addictive behaviors by correcting the wrong thoughts and belief systems at their core. In treatment, individuals are first taught to identify “faulty cognitions” and then replace them with positive, truth-based concepts. For example, people who believe they are worthless are taught to challenge that conception with an empathetic view of themselves as an imperfect yet courageous human on a noble journey.
When thinking is hard to change, addiction experts suggest “faking it `till you make it.” In other words, even if your self-esteem is in the dumps, you can do estimable things such as volunteer work. For instance, serving members of your recovery community is a surefire way to regain a sense of personal pride. Telling your story at 12-Step meetings is another dynamic way to make a contribution—and realize your own value. Anything you can do to counteract the lie that you don’t deserve a better life will help you stay sober, one day at a time.
People who struggle with heroin addiction are used to lying. Part of the human condition is fear of falling short. Add to stigmatization to the mix and you have a recipe guaranteed to keep you blind to your own value. Parents in new sobriety may struggle particularly with this form of shame, as they may worry that the stigma of addiction will spill over onto their children, causing them to be shunned at school or on the playground. Parents who shirked responsibility for caretaking responsibilities or misused money may be even more daunted by telling the truth. However, the best way to heal is to shoot straight. Addiction divorces us from ourselves, from reality, and from emotional truths when it forces us to lie because we are simply too hurt, immature or fearful to face the truth. The reality is, getting honest with loved ones will relieve stress, not add to it. Most people sense the truth whether the facts are hidden from them or not, say members of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. For the family to recover, old ways of hiding from the discomfort of our present circumstances must be replaced with a willingness to accept reality.
Recovery from Addiction to Heroin
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, you are not alone. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.