Recovery: Pride vs Egotism

Pride in Recovery: A Double-Edged Sword

Today we will be looking at what pride can mean when it comes to substance abuse and recovery. People become addicted to mind-altering substances for numerous reasons. For some, addiction is an illness that runs in the family; they become addicts basically after picking up the habits of parents, siblings, spouses, or other loved ones.

There are also environmental factors that can result in addiction, which can include living in a place where mind-altering substances are extremely accessible or being in a peer group that consists of other substance abusers. Also, there are more internal, individual reasons why a person might turn to substance abuse, which is what we’re going to be addressing today.

Keep reading to find out about the roles that pride can play in helping, and harming, your efforts at recovery from alcohol and other forms of addiction!

The Potential Pitfalls in Recovery from Addiction

Despite the widely accepted disease model of addiction, there’s an ongoing debate as to whether addiction is actually a disease or whether it’s a behavior issue. In other words, many have doubts as to whether addiction represents an involuntary compulsion or whether it’s a person’s conscious behavioral decision.

For many, many years, the consensus was that addiction was a behavioral or even a moral problem, but the most recent evidence paints a portrait of addiction as a chronic, incurable, and progressive brain disease.

However, the fact remains that if a person didn’t choose to begin experimenting with alcohol or drug abuse, it would be physically impossible to develop the disease of addiction. Therefore, there’s a strong behavioral component to the development of addiction that makes it very important for us to understand the attitudes and beliefs of the individual who’s suffering from addiction.

But where exactly does pride fit into this equation? What are the specific effects that pride can have on one’s recovery or even one’s potential to develop an alcohol or drug addiction? Let’s find out.

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Pride and Recovery

Most people, even those who aren’t particularly religious, associate the concept of pride with religion. As you likely recall, pride is one of the infamous seven deadly sins and is often considered to be the worst of the sins, meaning that the repercussions of pride have the potential to be the most significant.

For this reason, the definition of pride is largely based on the biblical conception of the term, which states that pride is “the desire to lift ourselves up beyond our actual place” and beyond the place of others.

In most cases, pride is associated with the feeling one gets that makes the individual believe he or she is better or deserves better than others. There’s an inherent sense of superiority with pride, and the idea behind pride being the worst of the deadly sins is that it skews one’s judgment, causing a person to behave in ways that could be destructive for him or herself or for others.

As well, individuals who are experiencing pride — at least the pride that’s described here — become willing to sacrifice others for their own gain since they often feel that they’re deserving of it. In other words, the behaviors of the proud most often harm others to serve their own needs.

Putting Pride and Ego in Context

Putting Pride and Ego in Context

Having defined pride and provided its biblical context, let’s now take a look at a concept called egotism. As most of us are aware, one’s ego is essentially a person’s sense of self-esteem and self-importance.

According to the field of psychology, the ego mediates between a person’s conscious and unconscious selves; in effect, the ego has to determine what’s real and what isn’t real while establishing one’s sense of self, agency, and identity. While this might sound like an essential part of one’s identity — and to a large degree that’s true — the ego can become inflamed and result in a behavioral phenomenon known as egotism.

When a person is an egotist, he or she is essentially driven by the desire to establish and maintain a sense of self-importance. This individual is always seeking to create a strong, positive self-image that feeds into his or her sense of pride. As a result, egotists almost always have an overinflated sense of self-importance and excessive self-regard.

Because these individuals are so concerned about their image and, essentially, their reputations, much of their behaviors are intended to socially and culturally elevate themselves over the people around them; in short, this sense of egotism directly feeds into their pride. In turn, this enhanced sense of pride bolsters and motivates their egotism, turning this combination into a deadly and vicious circle.

The Top 4 Symptoms of Ego in Addiction

When we talk about addiction, we often think about the physical symptoms: needing more and more of the substance, withdrawal symptoms, etc. But there’s another side to addiction that’s just as important to understand: the psychological symptoms.

In particular, ego plays a very big role in addiction. Here are some of the ways ego manifests in addiction.

Minimizing the problem

Addicts are very good at convincing themselves that their use of the substance is no big deal, that they can quit anytime they want, and that they’re not really hurting anyone. In other words, addicts are in denial about their problems. And this denial is a way of protecting their ego. If they admit that there’s a problem, then they would have to face the fact that they’re not in control…and that’s something their ego often can’t handle.

Blaming others

Blaming others in Addiction Recovery

An addict will often blame their family, friends, or even society as a whole for their addiction. It’s always someone else’s fault—never theirs. This again is a way of protecting their ego. If they take responsibility for their addiction, then they would have to face the fact that they’re not perfect and they’re making mistakes.

Making excuses

Addicts will make all sorts of excuses for their behavior: “I only do it when I’m stressed,” “It’s not a big deal,” “Everyone does it,” etc. But the truth is, these are just excuses to justify their behavior to themselves and to others. They’re afraid of being judged or rejected, so they make up these excuses as a way of protecting their ego and continue using and/or drinking.

Isolate from friends and family members who don’t approve

Isolating themselves from people who don’t approve of their behavior is another way addicts protect their egos. If they’re around people who don’t judge them or try to control them, then they can feel good about themselves and their addiction.

But if they’re around people who do judge them or try to control them, then they feel threatened and defensive. So they isolate themselves as a way of protecting their ego and protecting their usage.

The above symptoms are complex and aren’t about only ego, but it’s important to understand that ego plays a very big role in addiction—perhaps even bigger than we realize. By understanding how ego manifests in addiction, we can get a better handle on why addicts behave the way they do…and maybe even find some compassion for them along the way.

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The Effects of Pride in Addiction and Recovery

Let’s reflect, again, on the reasons why people might turn to alcohol or drug abuse. Specifically, let’s look at some of the social and environmental reasons. As we mentioned above, one of the chief reasons why people turn to alcohol or drug abuse is because of their peer groups; being in peer groups with substance abusers makes an individual exceedingly likely to become substance abusers themselves.

Oftentimes, we think of this as being an example of peer pressure, but there’s another way that this can happen; in short, this situation can lead to addiction due to an individual consciously choosing to use alcohol or drug abuse as a means of elevating his or her reputation within his or her social circle.

In such cases, the individual in question is associating substance abuse with popularity and notoriety within the social circle, so the idea is that becoming a substance abuser will inflate his or her sense of pride.

Unfortunately, this often turns individuals with a strong sense of pride into addicts.

5 Dangers of Pride and Ego in Recovery

Dangers of Pride and Ego in Recovery

Pride and ego are two of the most dangerous things when it comes to addiction recovery. That’s because they can prevent people from getting the help they need. Here’s how:

1) Preventing people from admitting they have a problem

The first step in overcoming any addiction is admitting that you have a problem. But if someone’s pride and ego are preventing them from doing that, then they’re never going to get better. Why? Because without admitting that there’s a problem, there’s no motivation to seek help.

2) Preventing people from seeking help

Once someone admits that they have a problem, the next step is to seek help. But again, pride and ego can get in the way. If someone is too proud or has too much ego, they might be unwilling to reach out for help, even if they know they have a problem.

3) Preventing people from following through with treatment

Even if someone does seek help for their addiction, their pride and ego can still prevent them from following through with treatment. If someone doesn’t believe that treatment will work or if they’re too proud to follow the rules of treatment, then they’re not going to get better.

4) Pride and Ego in AA

Relapse is a common occurrence in addiction recovery, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to face. For many people, the hardest part of relapse is not the physical act of using substances again, but rather the psychological barriers that they must overcome to return to AA meetings and ask for help.

5) The Stigma of Relapse

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when returning to sobriety after a relapse is a stigma that surrounds relapse. In our society, there is a prevalent belief that addiction is a choice and that addicts are morally weak and lacking in self-control.

This judgment can be especially prevalent among people who have never struggled with relapsing themselves. As a result, many people who have relapsed feel ashamed and embarrassed, fearing that they will be seen as failures by their peers.

This stigma often leads people to believe that they are powerless to change their situation and that there is no point in even trying to recover again. This feeling of hopelessness can be paralyzing, preventing many people from ever taking those first steps back toward sobriety. It’s important to remember, however, that addiction is not a choice and that relapse does not mean that you are powerless or hopeless. If you have relapsed, it’s okay to reach out for help and start again.

Overcoming Pride and Ego in AA and Recovery

Overcoming Pride and Ego in AA Meeting

There are a few things that you can do to prevent your pride and ego from causing problems in your recovery:

  • Be honest with yourself: Take a long, hard look at yourself and be honest about your weaknesses and shortcomings. Only by admitting that you have a problem can you begin to work on fixing it.
  • Seek help from others: Don’t try to do it alone. Reach out to your sponsor or friends in AA for help and support.
  • Be humble: Remember that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes. Accepting this fact will help you to stay grounded during difficult times.
  • Let go of your ego: Your ego will only get in the way of your recovery if you let it. Instead, focus on helping others and doing what’s best for your sobriety.

Overcoming pride and ego can be difficult, but it is essential to achieve lasting sobriety. If you have relapsed, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need assistance, and doing so is the first step on your road to recovery.

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As you can see, pride and egotism can be detrimental to one’s recovery. In most cases, those who are extremely proud in recovery may reach a point of complacency; after a brief period of success in recovery, they begin to feel as though they no longer need to participate in addiction treatment or in twelve-step meetings, causing them to let their guards down. This puts them at an elevated risk of relapse if they’re confronted by temptation or a relapse trigger.

Freedom From Addiction is Possible!

If you have found yourself suffering from addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then Find Addiction Rehabs can help. We give you the jump start to recovery with top nationwide treatment options matched to your needs, with programs that teach relapse prevention including learning healthy outlets in sobriety.

If you are struggling to get (or stay) sober, please reach out to our representatives today, we are ready and waiting to help each and every caller to the best of our abilities!

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