Addiction robs one’s joy, family, friends, and sometimes even life. In many cases, what began as perhaps recreational substance use leads to a dangerous cycle of addiction. This journey is one of constant regression, and many cannot break free from its shackles. What makes substance abuse so devastating is how it strips away a person’s sense of worthiness. The worthiness to take care of oneself, the worthiness to be part of a family, the worthiness to be respected by peers, and the worthiness to be part of a healthy, productive community – all of these are taken away from an individual when they become addicted to a substance.


Worthiness is the belief that one deserves love, respect, and other positive outcomes in their life. Someone should be empowered to pursue happiness and fulfillment and live life to their full potential. However, when addiction seeps into a person’s life, feelings of worthlessness can grow. In a recent interview on The Drew Barrymore Show, Jason Ritter, touchingly discussed how alcoholism and feelings of unworthiness hindered him from pursuing his now wife, Melanie Lynskey. When Jason got sober, his thought process changed that he could be loved and return that love. Drew also echoed Jason’s comments as she talked about “the narrative” one spins in their own head that keeps them from feeling worthy of love. She pointed out that the narrative can even last in recovery. These feelings are real and hurt emotionally, but sometimes keep people from seeking support or taking action for what they truly want. They feel stuck so how do we begin to help someone understand they are worthy?


Addiction has many stigmas. Some people see addiction as a moral failure, associate it with weakness and hopelessness, and even see those struggling with substance abuse as criminals. These types of stigma only feed feelings of unworthiness. The truth is that addiction is a disease, and does not define someone as a human being. For example, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease marked by excessive alcohol intake and compulsive drinking, despite the negative effects it has on one’s life. AUD often leads to strained relationships, mood disorders, and negative physical outcomes. Those that try to stop or control their cravings often can’t bear withdrawal symptoms and continue in a self-destructive cycle. By looking at addiction for what it really is, understanding can be extended to those struggling with drugs or alcohol. It is the perspectives that need to change around addiction that will truly help people break free from the cycle. Regardless of someone’s addiction struggles, regardless of whether they relapse repeatedly, they are worthy of love, respect, and recovery. One should not be treated as inferior because they have or continue to grapple with addiction issues. Compassion, patience, and healthy support are all requirements of the recovery journey and will help restore worthiness that was once lost.


It starts with YOU. Although one’s sense of worthiness can be heavily influenced by surroundings, it all starts and ends with them. What matters is how they see themselves and how they talk to themselves to remove the negative narrative. This is easier said than done as rebuilding self-worth after an addiction can feel overwhelming, but it’s essential. Listed below are some tips for getting started and reestablishing a sense of worthiness.

  • Self Compassion: Being kind and loving to yourself will allow you to extend those same attributes to others. Compassionately empower yourself, forgive yourself, and keep going.
  • Patience: After struggling with addiction, the path of destruction is often difficult to clean up! Don’t beat yourself up and overwhelm yourself with fixing everything at once. Have patience and set goals. Regardless of how big or small the goal is, celebrate it along the way. It’s about progress not perfection.
  • Strengths: Feed your strengths and watch them blossom. By honoring what you really like and want to do, you feel more worthy. You’re choosing you!
  • Self-care: Worthiness can often be restored by taking good care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Focus on your wellbeing and you will cultivate more self-worth.
  • Support System: Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you, those who support, respect, and care for you.
  • Volunteer and Help Others: Volunteering and helping others provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, as well as a boost to self-esteem.

Getting sober is a process, and it takes time and effort to reclaim worthiness. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and seek support when you need it. With the right mindset and support, you can build a fulfilling and rewarding recovery life. There is a wide range of support and services available at Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® for those who are struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse. Visit or call 1-888-NODRUGS for more information if you or someone you love is in need of treatment.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.