Ego. We hear the world thrown around all the time but what is it really? Ego is a psychology term that is used to reference identity or the conscious sense of oneself. It helps us differentiate ourselves as unique beings and individuals with our own lives made up of our own experiences, feelings, and thoughts. The ego helps us with our social encounters, aides with decision making, and even regulates our behaviors. Many believe the ego is developed in early childhood as children meet demands and expectations of caregivers. This results in internalized values that run naturally over one’s lifespan. Over the course of time, ego can help us stabilize in our own self perception. For something that sounds so pleasant, it is hard to see how ego can have drawbacks but with most of anything, it can, especially when it plays a role in addiction.

A distorted sense of self can plague one’s ego leading to complications and struggle with drug addiction. This is because substance or alcohol abuse is used as a tool or coping mechanism to help numb feelings of low self-esteem, worthlessness, and lack of meaning in one’s life. Other ways ego can affect addiction include:

  • Self-medicating: Many who use this tactic to “exit the building” so to speak, are looking to escape their mental health struggles or other potential issues.
  • Control: A sense of control can come from using substances as they often distort reality and can leave one feeling invincible in their high or in a powerful state.
  • Self-image: Shame and guilt are guilty culprits of poor self-image which can cause those struggling with addiction to use in order to numb painful feelings about themselves (even if they are not true)!
  • A sense of belonging: Someone’s identity may be found in drug use because they become a part of the social circles that approve of substance abuse. This is where we see peer pressure play a role as well.
  • Denial: Those suffering from addiction can often be drowning in their own denial. They deny their addiction and forgo seeking help to get sober to keep their false sense in place and avoid doing the recovery work.

Types of unhealthy egos are often labeled with personality disorders that present with an excessive ego. Narcissism is thought to be a personality trait that is marked by excessive ego. Most narcissists have an inflated sense of self and lack empathy for others. Their self adoration leaves them focused instead on their importance and their belief they are superior to others and are entitled to special treatment and privileges. Narcissism and drug use are also thought to be connected in some realms.

So how does one beat addiction while having their ego work for them, not against them? Support networks are a huge way those who are struggling can help recognize the issues they are having and get through them. Those who have been there and done that are often a relatable source of support for those who are looking for understanding as well. Individual therapy is also helpful to undue mental health issues and talk out the feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem. Individualized therapy can really propel someone looking for a way out of addiction to become more self aware and make healthier choices in the long term.

Many of Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® staff have been in drug or alcohol users’ shoes themselves but have come back a champion in sobriety. This makes our team relatable and we have built a team of champions to help support your health. SRC® has been Arizona’s premier addiction center for over a decade and we offer support in all forms to our clients, community, and those who are struggling. If you or a loved one need support please connect with our team by visiting or call 1-888-NODRUGS

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.