Alcohol and Low Self-Esteem: Is Drinking Your Crutch?

July 25, 2018 Sam Woolfe

Alcohol hides low self-esteem, and many people turn to alcohol without knowing why. Learn how to develop healthy self-esteem without drinking on HealthyPlace.

Alcohol and low self-esteem connect intimately with one another because when you have low self-esteem, you may try to find ways in order to mask the problem. There are many things that can give you a temporary boost in confidence, including material possessions, status, money, sex, a new relationship, travel, drugs, and alcohol. However, these really only offer you a temporary and superficial form of positive self-regard. None of them can help you address the cause of your low self-esteem. Since drinking is so prevalent and ingrained in people’s lives, I'd like to address alcohol and low self-esteem today. Of course, not everyone drinks regularly because of low self-esteem issues. But if your image of yourself sober is starkly negative, whereas you only feel confident when drunk, then this may be a counter-productive habit.

Alcohol as a Crutch for Low Self-Esteem

It’s not necessarily the case that you will consciously decide to deal with your low self-esteem with alcohol, it’s just that you get accustomed to the feeling of getting drunk. And to be honest, it can be a liberating feeling. You feel confident, carefree, relaxed, and disinhibited. As a depressant, alcohol reduces activity in the brain, and so, can dull negative self-talk. Insecurities kind of just fade away – for the time being, at least. This is where the problem lies.

You start to really like the drunk version of yourself and continue to be unhappy with how you are when you’re sober. The danger is that you will start to rely on alcohol in order to feel comfortable with yourself. You may come to believe that you can only be funny, interesting, and good company when you’re drunk. This is how low self-esteem can lead to alcohol abuse and addiction. An unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol often points to a deep-seated pain that you are attempting to relieve.

Giving Up the Crutch of Alcohol for Higher Self-Esteem

The first step in building healthy self-esteem involves taking a hard look at whether your drinking habit has a self-medicating aspect to it. This is easier said than done. Like so many other people, you may use drugs and alcohol as a strategy to avoid, repress, or dull a problem without even realizing it. Recognising that you are doing this takes a certain level of courageous honesty: it is extremely uncomfortable to have to look at your pain directly.

If you discover that you’re using alcohol as a crutch for low self-esteem issues, then it’s important to find ways to build self-esteem that doesn’t depend on being intoxicated. This could involve confronting how you feel in situations in which you would instinctively want to get drunk. If you’re meeting new people or going on a date, how do you talk to yourself before doing so, or when you’re in that situation?

Notice the ways in which you put yourself down and doubt your likeability. It may be the case that your self-esteem is so low that, without alcohol, it stops you from meeting new people or dating. In this case, working through your issues with a trained professional can be immensely helpful.

When I cut down on drinking, and eventually gave it up completely, I had to learn how to feel more accepting of – and at ease with – myself. It hasn’t been easy. Not having alcohol in my life means I now have to confront my low self-esteem head on. The fact that I don’t drink anymore has also played into my insecurities and self-judgment, as I can convince myself that I’m now more boring than ever.

I’m not saying that you need to teetotal in order to build your self-esteem. People with healthy self-esteem may still like to drink. What’s important is that you focus on developing a more honest and friendlier relationship with yourself. When this becomes your work, then you will be less likely to engage in bad habits and limiting coping mechanisms. Alcohol often hides low self-esteem, so take a close look at yourself before you go drinking again.

APA Reference
Woolfe, S. (2018, July 25). Alcohol and Low Self-Esteem: Is Drinking Your Crutch?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 18 from

Author: Sam Woolfe

Find Sam on TwitterFacebook and on his blog.

Leave a reply