The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.
Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.
Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.
Addictions are destructive, especially to a person’s body, but physical health isn’t all that is destroyed. Inwardly, because addictions wound a person’s soul, the damage can be even more extensive. Addictions empower negativity, feeding low self-esteem. They disaffirm a person’s self-worth constantly, making meaningful recovery virtually impossible.
In their minds, alcoholics, addicts, and codependents repeatedly tell themselves:
—I’m no good.
—I hate myself.
—Nobody cares about me.
—I have no value.
—Life has no meaning.
—I don’t want to go on like this.
Wounded people repeat these messages in their mind regularly. Such destructive thinking, which addictive people firmly believe to be accurate—regardless of what they say outwardly—makes it more difficult for them to break free from their enslaving lifestyles.
An addict’s only freedom from negativity comes while he or she is using. Booze and drugs make addicts feel okay—even if it’s just for a short period. It’s why they use. It’s their way to escape the realities of life. It’s also why they gravitate to the seamier side of life, where their dysfunction is accepted as normal. Sometimes, it is even be championed.
When an alcoholic or addict’s standard “fix” stops working, they use more, believing this will do the trick, which it does for a while. Then, it doesn’t. Finally, fixes stop working altogether and never work again.
This leaves alcoholics and users in a desperate situation. This is when their lives spin out of control, and their behavior reflects it. Despite the negative consequences of their actions, the addict is powerless to stop drinking or drugging. They have become ruled and enslaved by their addiction or cross-addictions. They need help, and Conquering Negative Self-Talk can help provide it.