Addiction and the Ego

Addiction-and-the-EgoIn psychoanalysis, the ego is the division of the psyche that is conscious; it controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality. It is your ego which also gives you self-pride and self-esteem, which are crucial for happiness and success in life. However, if you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, addiction and the ego often work together and become major roadblocks to recovery. An exaggerated sense of self-importance and conceit can trigger negative emotions that make it harder for an addict to realize that they need help, and can increase resistance to seeking help as well.

Ego may cause a drug user to ignore or deny the fact that his or her drug use is getting worse or is out of control. He or she may believe that quitting drug use would be a sign of weakness, and the idea of surrender is not an attractive concept. Many people with substance abuse issues truly believe that they are in complete control. Rehab and recovery for individuals with a strong ego can be especially difficult, because they often enter rehab to appease those around them, but don’t genuinely believe that they need it. The may also fall prey to ego-driven thoughts, such as:

“If you’re tough enough, you can handle it”

“You should be able to hold your alcohol”

“No one is going to tell you what to do or when to quit”

Another way ego can enable an addiction to continue comes from a realization of failure. If an addict believes they have been defeated by a substance, the blow to their ego can be devastating and paralyzing. They may not see this realization as a chance for recovery but, instead, view it as defeat. For some, the idea of rehab and treatment can seem worse than the effects of full-blown addiction. They do not want to admit to their struggle, and are afraid of the effects of recovery efforts on their self-esteem.

If you or someone you love are struggling with self-defeating behavior, we can help. At White Sands Treatment Center, we understand the power of the ego, and know how to harness it to make it work for a lasting recovery. Don’t waste another day stuck in a pattern of self-destruction and addiction.

Part II

About the Author