Neglect This and Recovery is Just Temporary!
Without assisting people with addictions to develop a high level of self-esteem all treatment for addictions are just temporary fixes. Eventually the same or another addiction will develop to cope with the pain of low or no self-esteem/love.
Addictions are merely maladaptive behaviors that are chosen to cope with the internal psychic pain associated with low or no self-esteem/love. Although they do provide varying degrees of relief, all they are really doing are masking and diverting attention from the pain. As with all behaviors, when they are done repeatedly will become firm habits. When those maladaptive habits involve the use of chemical choices to produce that relief, physical addictions can and do develop.
The problem with most current methods of treating addictions is the assumption that the addictive behavior and associated chemical dependence is the problem rather than viewing it as a symptom. The current emphasis on medically assisted treatment (MAT) certainly will block the use of specific drugs choices and will open a window where long-term solutions can be explored without contending with daily physical cravings. Unfortunately, without enhancing the client’s self-esteem, this is just a high stakes, expensive game of whack-a-mole. Block the opioid, that’s nice. What about all the stimulant choices, the psychedelic choices, and the non-chemical choices such as compulsive sex, over-eating, work, gambling, compulsive exercise, dieting, etc., etc.
The non-medical treatments and programs for recovery from addictions, including the 12-Step ones, that are focusing on the chemical or behavior of choice without addressing the underlying need to blot out the pain of low/no self-esteem/love are to a lesser degree still doing an incomplete job. They are teaching more responsibility and better coping skills, but if they neglect assisting the development of a high level of self-esteem/love they are missing the point and their clients will eventually miss the mark. Regarding 12 Step programs, they provide a very supportive, positive environment, and working the Steps very effectively prepares a solid foundation, unclouded by past emotional baggage for one to then work on developing one’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, developing self-esteem/love is not directly addressed in the Steps, nor anywhere else in those programs, so their members are still at risk for relapses and the switching of addictions.
©2018, rev. 2020, Jason Wittman, MPS, CATC-IV, ILAADC
[Permission to reproduce this article is granted as long as this notice and the "About the Author and the copyright information is included.] *About The Author* Jason Wittman received both his B.S. degree in business management and his Master of Professional Studies in Counseling Psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a Certified, Level IV, Addictions Counselor ( CAADE #155970-IV ) a Licensed Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (LR01700815) and an Internationally Certified Clinical Supervisor. He is also a Certified Hypnotherapist and a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Jason has had a private practice as a Counselor and Coach since the middle 1980s. Currently, his practice, http://Stage2Recovery.com focuses on coaching and advising business and professional clients, who are recovering from alcoholism and addictions to work and live at their exquisite best. He is a recognized expert in teaching and guiding his clients through the "getting-on-living" stuff including enhancing their self-esteem/love that only emerge as issues after the focus is no longer on figuring out how to stay clean and sober. He can be contacted at http://Stage2Recovery.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-804-4408