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Addictive Behaviors That Affect Self-esteem

addictive behaviors

Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that becomes the major focus of a person’s life to the exclusion of other activities or has begun to harm the individual whether it be physically, mentally or socially is considered an addictive behavior. A person can become addicted to anything whether it be shopping, surfing the internet, food, alcohol, drugs, compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, or even another person. Most of us have at one time or another been “hopelessly devoted” to someone or have experienced some kind of obsessive attraction. Most of us also know what it feels like to believe “I’ve just got to have that “whatever”; and most of us have felt hysterical or upset because someone didn’t agree with us or give us what we wanted. If you have ever violated your values and ignored responsibilities to pursue an overpowering desire, then you understand the feeling of addiction.

Codependency frequently underlies addiction. A codependent person is someone whose core identity is undeveloped or unknown, and who maintains a false identity built from dependent attachments to external sources – a partner, a spouse, a boyfriend, family, appearances, work or rules. Codependency is essentially an addiction to security.

There are some common characteristics of addictive behaviors:

  • Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviors

  • Low Self Esteem

  • Person hides the behavior

  • Person does not appear to have control as to when, how long, or how much he or she will continue the behavior

  • The person becomes obsessed with the object, person, activity or substance

  • The person will seek out the behavior even though they know it is causing harm with themselves and others

  • Compromise their needs for others

  • Inability to say “no”

In therapy we work through many of these issues and study the family of origin because; depending on the individual; it is often helpful to understand how these behaviors were passed down. Other approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, 12 step programs, family work and building self esteem.

Individuals lacking in self esteem are likely to be very easily influenced by their environment or attracted to addictions. If the environment is perceived as unfavorable, their self esteem is lowered. They are focused on external forces to build self esteem as opposed to being inner oriented. Individuals with high self esteem are less influenced by the environment. They feel that they can master the environment and, thus, their self esteem is relatively stable.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center we strive to promote a healthy self esteem. We are located in Scotch Plains, NJ. Please call 908-322-0112 to schedule an appointment. Or you may visit We have a team of licensed professionals who are available day, evening and weekend hours.

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