For many people who enter addiction treatment, a large part of their healing is changing the way they see themselves. For instance, someone who once identified as a bar junkie or a biker with a bad attitude might see themselves as a drinker. They might see themselves as someone who can drink and drink without flinching. And it might even be something they’re known for among friends. In addiction treatment, a person’s self-image as well as many other significant aspects of life must change.

Of course, there are many people who go through addiction treatment and who do not change. However, one of two things happen: either they relapse or they become what’s known as a dry drunk. In other words, they may not be drinking but they still have the same personality traits, continue to make unhealthy choices, and continue to have the same unhealthy relationships. Nothing has changed except for the fact that they have ended their substance use. Although this is an incredible achievement, their emotions, beliefs, and harmful thoughts might still play a role in their life.

For lasting sobriety, a person must make some radical changes. This isn’t to intimidate the new recovering addict, but rather to point out that the journey ahead has some dips, valleys, and major turnarounds. Part of this significant change is changing the image of yourself.

Interestingly, one’s self image is made up of three things:

  • -the image a person has of themselves
  • -the image a person has of themselves as a result of how other people see them
  • -the image a person has as a result of their perceptions of how other people see them


The scientist Maxwell Maltz once said, “The self-image is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self image and change the personality and the behavior.” It’s common for those who are vulnerable to addiction to have a poor self image. They might see themselves as someone who cannot take control of their life, someone who is powerless, someone who believes they are incapable or incompetent.

Addiction treatment is a time for transforming self-image. Of course, it doesn’t come overnight but with active participation in treatment. Working with a therapist, attending group therapy, participating in a 12-step program, and learning more and more about addiction can all contribute to changing the way that you think, feel, and believe about yourself.

In addiction treatment, a person can learn to have the following facets of a self-image:

  • -competent enough to take responsibility for their life
  • -strong enough to face the challenges that might come in recovery
  • -willingness to face the poor choices made in the past and correct them
  • -positivity to keep the light inside burning long enough to sustain lasting sobriety
  • -willingness to rise above past mistakes
  • -believing that you deserve to be loved and accepted for who you are
  • -committed enough to continue to push through the challenges of staying sober


It’s important to note that if you’ve already entered treatment then you’ve already changed your self-image to some degree. You’re no longer identifying with being a drinker or a user of drugs. Instead, you’re already seeing yourself in a new way.

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