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Alcoholics and low self-esteem

I have never met an alcoholic who has a healthy self-esteem, self-worth, self-image of themselves. Alcoholics confuse their feelings of confidence with self-esteem and it’s not until I explain to them the difference that they gain understanding.

The reality is their self-esteem is non-existent and they are sliding through life with confidence, which is a learned skill, and ego.  You learn how to ride a horse or drive a car – that’s confidence. You learn how to become an Accountant, Builder, Architect or Town Planner and these studies provide you with the confidence to do your job.

Alcoholics also get through life on ego, which is often a defensive, passive or aggressive ego and certainly not a healthy ego.

Self-esteem is how you really feel about yourself and without a healthy self-esteem, trying to stay sober is near impossible.

I’ve counselled many alcoholics in high profile positions and they get through life with the skills they have learned to give them the confidence to do their job. Their ego would have them believe that it is everyone else’s fault and that there is nothing wrong with them.

Once they start their journey of recovery, they need to practise various methods of being assertive as circumstances arise. Show respect for ourselves and we will show respect for others. If we don’t like ourselves, we don’t like other people, especially people who keep telling us what to do.

Once sober, we need to stand up for ourselves and protect our basic rights and our feelings. This all contributes to building up a healthy self-esteem/self-worth. We should never allow anyone to trample on these rights or to hurt our feelings so that we get angry, anxious or upset.

At the same time we have to acknowledge that other people have rights and feelings, and we have to be careful to take account of these so that we don’t hurt them. Alcoholics are often in a difficult position here, because the profound difference between a practising and a non-practising alcoholic is not understood.

Once an alcoholic stops drinking and begins to make an effort to live without alcohol, he or she is as worthy as anyone else. Alcoholics begin to feel self-respect when they start to assert their rights to be treated in the same way as non-alcoholics.

When they begin to become less self-centered and selfish and change towards showing consideration and respect for the rights of others, the recovery process is well under way. Respect for others should not be confused with deference to others because of their position, rank, status, high income or social standing. We do not show deference to anyone because of these factors.

Some people in high positions are not worthy of respect, because they abuse their positions for personal gain. Respect for others is independent of status.

During their drinking years alcoholics are usually dishonest and lying becomes a part of their way of life. Lies are told about how much they drink, how often they drink and how much they spend on alcohol.

The fact of their alcoholism is denied in order to conceal the extent of the problem from others. Lying about absences from work, about hidden supplies, about illnesses caused by the excessive intake and about personal life is the norm.

In order to be assertive they have to be honest with themselves and honest with those around them, because the purpose of being assertive is to help lead a successful life by solving problems and thereby raising the sense of self-esteem.

Dishonesty cuts off effective communication, leads to failure and to a drop in self-esteem. Honesty involves assessing their wants and feelings accurately and expressing these wants, feelings, opinions and preferences so that they don’t violate their own self-respect or put someone else down. Probably the most dishonest thing alcoholics can do is to continue to deny that they are alcoholics. Denial is usually a prelude to resumption of drinking.

Situations that end in alcoholics reaching for alcohol because they are unable to cope usually occur in the family. I have done a study of what triggers the alcoholic to pick up a drink and 85% of alcoholics said it was a situation connected with family life.  Financial issues, relationships, loss of respect and trust from close family members, criticism from in-laws and lack of privacy in their attempt to stay sober (going to AA meetings).

The ideal family is one where all the adult members are emotionally independent of one another, where there is respect for selves and for one another. Where there is trust, consideration, kindness, gratitude, appreciation, love and affection. The ideal family may not exist but at least we can strive towards that goal.

If the members of the family are unaware of tensions, resentments and so on, they cannot deal rationally with one another. If everyone is calmly assertive at appropriate times, their problems will emerge and be solved with a minimum of fuss. As perfection is impossible, compromises will often be the best solution.

People who have not been coping well with life usually lack assertion skills. Their non-assertive and aggressive habits have become very strong. These habits have to be unlearned and the new assertive habits learned. Co-dependency is learned behaviour growing up in a dysfunctional environment and can be unlearned through counselling.

Early recovery starts by learning about brain chemistry and I begin by starting my patients on a number of supplements in conjunction with prescriptions recommended by their General Practitioner.

LivaTone Plus supports phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways, ensuring optimum detoxification of many toxic substances and also supports liver function and metabolism.

Tyrosine Mood Food as Tyrosine is necessary for the manufacture of dopamine and noradrenaline, which are required for concentration, alertness, memory and a happy, stable mood.

Magnesium Complete – The Great Relaxer. Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and assists in the reduction of stress, nervous tension, anxiety and sleeplessness.

L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and over 60% of your muscle tissue is comprised of glutamine. Strenuous exercise, viral and bacterial infections, inflammation, stress and trauma in general, can cause glutamine depletion that weakens the immune cells.

MSM plus Vitamin C powder assists liver detoxification.

Super Digestive Enzymes are a plant based digestive enzyme to assist digestion of carbohydrate, fat and protein. They reduces symptoms of poor digestive function such as bloating, flatulence, burping, indigestion, heartburn, reflux and irritable bowel syndrome. They are also helpful for people with food intolerances and food allergies, leaky gut or a sluggish pancreas.
If you would like a FREE copy of my new eBook, Recovery from Alcoholism, email me at counsellor@scoastnet.com.au or my web site www.alcoholdependencycounselling.com.au
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

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THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FDA AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT OR CURE ANY DISEASES.