Low Self-Esteem & Teen Substance Abuse

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Self-esteem is one’s own subjective evaluation of their worth. In simpler terms, self-esteem is the way we perceive ourselves. Self-esteem governs our self-talk, influences our decision-making and impacts our overall wellbeing. Positive self-esteem is critical to our mental health and our spirit.

When someone has positive self-esteem, they have respect for themselves and are confident in their self-worth and their ability to take on the world. A person who possesses high self-esteem often radiates confidence. Confidence enables teens to think outside-the-box and grab the opportunities before them. Teens with confidence may find it easier to rebound from failure, seeing it as an opportunity for growth rather than a catastrophe. Confidence may contribute to their belief that they will ultimately recover from even the greatest challenges.

In contrast, when someone has low self-esteem, they may feel inadequate, unlovable, unworthy or incompetent. Individuals with negative self-image often lack self-respect, confidence, and tend to expect less from life. These individuals may lack the motivation needed to succeed and may even sabotage their own efforts to improve their life because they do not feel they deserve to be successful.

Adolescents experience many changes that can affect their self-confidence and impact their self-esteem. For many teens, moods, behaviors, and relationships may swing up and down on a daily, or even hourly basis. This can leave both parents and teens feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused. When teens stop feeling confident with themselves, they stop treating themselves as well as they should which can have wide sweeping negative consequences.

Teens with low self-esteem often feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Without help, feelings of self-degradation can become all-consuming, and may impact behavior as well as decision making. Not to mention, a lack of self-confidence can jeopardize a teen’s ability to handle their emotions in a healthy way.

Teens with low self-esteem may seek validation in the wrong places and seek out experiences that make them feel better. They may find themselves experimenting with potentially additive substances to numb their problems or in order to fit in with the crowd. Low self-esteem in teens is one of the leading catalysts of substance abuse.

Abusing drugs and alcohol can feel like it masks those insecurities for a period of time but as those behaviors are repeated, they can become compulsive. And eventually, teens may start to feel socially inept without the use of drugs or alcohol. Low self-esteem is a common precursor to adolescent mental health concerns and, if self-esteem is not improved, the chances of relapse, recidivism and the development of a substance abuse disorder are increased, especially among adolescents.

As substance abuse issues develop, users can get caught in a vicious cycle of self-esteem issues. Substance abuse can feed into a negative self-perception and self-sabotage. Partaking in addictive behaviors that reinforce their feelings of inadequacy further develops the idea that they are not good enough.

Teens may start to feel powerless to their cravings or guilty about the negative effects of their addiction on those around them. Once stuck in the cycle of substance abuse, it can seem nearly impossible to get out and develop a healthy lifestyle. Identifying symptoms of self-esteem issues as well as substance abuse early is essential to recovery. Especially for teens, early intervention can make a big difference.

At Clear Recovery Center, we are committed to helping those struggling with substance abuse and mental health. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our treatment programs and services, contact our expert clinical team today.

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