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Why Do We Demonize Ourselves as Addicts?

Many of us living with addiction develop patterns of rejecting ourselves and internalizing all of the stigmatization of addiction in our culture. We’re taught by our families that addicts are bad people, that addiction is equated with immorality, and that addicts use their illnesses as an excuse for bad behavior. We start to demonize ourselves for having the problems we have as addicts and for making the mistakes we’ve made. We have a very hard time forgiving ourselves for the things we think we’ve done wrong. We deprive ourselves of compassion and understanding. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards of perfection, and when we can’t achieve them, we feel disappointed in ourselves, disheartened and defeated. We suffer from low self-esteem, depression and feelings of hopelessness. Why do we demonize ourselves as addicts?

When we aren’t secure within ourselves, we’re more susceptible to adopting the false and limiting beliefs being perpetuated around us. We internalize the cruel things people say about us. We believe them when they tell us we’re not good enough. We blame ourselves for the difficult things we’re going through, and we hate ourselves for hurting other people. We feel inadequate and inferior to other people, particularly non-addicts who aren’t suffering in the same visible ways. We don’t realize that everyone has their own unique struggles, and that we aren’t worse than other people simply because we’re addicts.

We’re conditioned to believe that our addictions are something we should be ashamed of. We come to believe they are something we should hide. We feel we should deny them and keep them a secret from other people. We fear we wouldn’t be accepted or validated by other people if they were to discover our secrets. We demonize ourselves for not having the “normal” lives we assume other people have. We envy their good health, their happiness and success. We become bitter, thinking that we can’t have the things we want, that we won’t be able to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves, have the families we wish we had, or reach the milestones we intended for ourselves – all because of our addictions. We hate our addictions for destroying our lives, for making people look down on us, for making us hate ourselves.

It’s so important to start examining our wounded self-perception as we’re working to heal. Many of us, even in recovery, are still thinking of ourselves in very negative, self-critical, punitive ways. It serves us so much better in our healing work to have unconditional self-love and self-acceptance, to appreciate ourselves as we are, to recognize our worth and not give into the limiting belief that our illnesses make us any less worthy.

At The Guest House Ocala, you will be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.