Self-care is an important tool for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, in addition to concurrent mental health disorders. Self-care is a self-designed programme to help bring you calm, peace, and serenity in the face of stress. Though self-care is wonderful and rejuvenating, it can be difficult for some people to develop.
You were lacking role models of self-care growing up
Self-care is something that has to be taught and in turn something that has to be learned. You might not have had parents or other adult role models who demonstrated self-care to you.
Most people care to themselves in behaviors which range from unhealthy to toxic to harmful. Using things like food, drugs, alcohol, or technology to unwind and take care of the self is not healthy.
There is a way to balance some of these activities as part of self-care. However, more often than not, these behaviors are a form of numbing and self-medicating instead of self-care. Self-care means learning to process emotions, feelings, and stress while providing the care one needs based on their specific needs.
Some people see exercise as self-care while others see journaling as self-care. Since you didn’t have a role model for self-care, you will have to define self-care for yourself. In order to do that you will have to recognize that you are worth being taken care of by yourself and that self-care is helpful for recovery.
You’ve learned your needs are not important
We are taught lessons about our needs in different ways, some bold and some subtle. For example, we might try to tell parents what we need and they ignore us. They might respond to us with statements which neglect our self-knowledge, like, “No, you don’t need that” or “you don’t know what you need.”
We learn about our needs in our relationships with romantic partners, our friendships, and our encounters with authorities. Everyone has basic needs which have to be met, like water, shelter, food, and love.
Beyond the primary necessities of needs each person has needs unique to who they are. When those needs are negated or neglected, we learn that not only are our needs not important, but who we are isn’t important either. Therefore, you learn that taking care of your needs doesn’t matter.
You have low self-esteem and low self-worth
Being shown that we and our needs are not important can be damaging to self-esteem, causing low self-worth. Messages which teach us that we are not important can affect the way we see ourselves. More impactfully, these messages can affect the way we believe the world sees us, which, would be as very unimportant.
We cannot take care of ourselves when we don’t think that we deserve to be taken care of by ourselves. We don’t feel worthy of the love and attention we could be positively turning toward ourselves. Instead, we turn to other self-destructive behaviours because that is what we believe we deserve.
Castle Craig has proven rates of success, helping patients achieve long term abstinence. Serving over ten thousand patients for the last twenty five years, Castle Craig stands out as an excellent provider of mental health care. For information on our residential programmes, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 5570. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006.
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | January 22, 2020