Abstract The self is a common yet unclear theme in addiction studies. William James's model of self provides a framework to explore the experience of self. His model details the subjective and objective constituents, the sense of self-continuity through time, and the ephemeral and plural nature of the changing self. This exploration yields insights into the self that can be usefully applied to subjective experiences with psychoactive drugs of addiction. Results of this application add depth to the common understanding of self in addiction, acknowledge the importance of feelings and choice in the sense of self created in addiction experiences, and affirm the values salient to these interior experiences in addiction. These results suggest meaning derived from those values, and provide important background knowledge for the nurse interacting with these clients.