The Role of Shame and Guilt in Addiction Recovery

However now we know that they play a valuable role in creating emotional balance. Distinguishing Between Shame and Guilt is an important aspect of addiction recovery as these two emotions play a significant role in the behavior and self-esteem of an individual. We may use these words interchangeably in a sentence, when in fact, these two words have significant differences and should be used to describe distinct situations. Simply put, guilt typically deals with harming ourselves, while shame implies harming someone else. Here we’ll explore the concepts of shame and addiction — and how you or a loved one can find healing from shame throughout recovery.

  • In addiction recovery, accessing additional forms of professional and peer support is crucial for long-term success.
  • An apology can remove the cloak of shame that even the most remorseful person carries around.
  • One reason why mindfulness meditation is so effective in addressing feelings of shame or guilt is because it helps individuals identify and confront their underlying triggers.
  • The good news is that you can resolve to change your behavior and forgive yourself at the same time.

If you’ve been told you’re different and weird enough times by people you look up to, you might feel shame. If you get made fun of for your weight by someone you like, you might feel shame. Shame might attach itself to you if your parents tell you you’re stupid over and over. Or if a teacher makes fun of you publicly and brings the rest of the class in on it. When these things happen enough, they become more than instances.

Why Do We Feel Guilt and Shame?

Seeing your shame for what it is will help you understand the severity of your actions. It’s likely that you’ll feel shameful for a human error, for a behaviour which has been controlled by an addictive stimulus, rather than yourself. To break away from shame, you must see your experience with drugs, alcohol or addiction as an illness, rather than a choice.

Naturally, you’ll also need to learn to overcome shame as you progress through recovery. Dwelling in guilt will often lead to shame, and that’s when you’re in danger. Shame cuts much deeper than guilt, and for this reason it poses an even greater threat to your sobriety. In my IGNTD Recovery program, I see many people who experience shame because of their past failures.

Practicing Forgiveness Towards Oneself

As mentioned above, for the average person, those emotions can be digested. Yet, for someone living with an addiction, or for someone who is working through addiction recovery, both shame and guilt can be difficult to work through. Guilt and shame can also be linked to current reality, making impending steps, challenging to face. Surround yourself with understanding and non-judgmental people. Consider joining support groups and relying on the encouragement and empathy of friends and family.

guilt and shame in recovery

Guilt can be useful in identifying harmful behavior patterns but becomes toxic when it prevents individuals from moving forward. So, how does one who has lived a life in addiction combat the feelings of addiction? First and foremost, being able to accurately identify the emotions that you are dealing with will assist in recognizing what actions you will have to take to be able to address the issue.

Cultivate Forgiveness:

You feel compelled to meet your addiction’s needs no matter what the
cost. To the addicted person, meeting that need is more important than eating,
sleeping or any other basic need. For support with addiction recovery, reach out to our team at Action Rehab. We are armed with skills and services to ease your addiction recovery journey. Shame can also influence mental health issues, such as depression and paranoia. It can reduce self-worth, it can influence distance and separation, and it can change personalities within an instance.

  • This is especially true if you have been having difficulties or have had a relapse.
  • Practicing Forgiveness Towards Oneself is a crucial aspect of addiction recovery that deserves attention.
  • Ensure you are in the right mindset for this by overcoming shame and guilt linked to an uncontrolled moment or experience.
  • Some turn to perfectionism, trying to ensure that everything they do is without fault and above reproach.
  • Those struggling with addiction require the support of others who understand the challenges they are facing in order to stay motivated, focused and accountable.
  • For example, if someone was abused as a child, they may transfer such abuse by bullying others.

However, building a support system requires effort and patience. It would be best if you had friends or family members who understand your situation and genuinely care about seeing you succeed in your recovery journey. In addition, consider joining local support groups or seeking professional help from therapists guilt and shame in recovery or counselors if needed. Such inner turmoil can often be traced back to one’s childhood. A victim of child abuse may nurse feelings of shame their whole lives. While the actual abuser was someone else, the victim may feel shame for not defending themselves or for not ending the abuse properly or quickly enough.

Read on to learn how guilt and shame in recovery can derail the process, and how to combat these feelings to maintain your sobriety. In order to make a full addiction recovery, you need to be honest about your past to the people trying to help you. This includes any healthcare professionals, therapists, and close friends or family. Being truthful about your past could greatly improve the care that you are able to receive. It is equally as important that you are honest about your present situation as well. This is especially true if you have been having difficulties or have had a relapse.

  • If it is appropriate guilt, make an effort to change the behavior that causes you to feel the guilt.
  • It is worth it not to give up on working through your guilt and shame issues.
  • However, building a support system requires effort and patience.
  • With nothing to do but think, the defendant contemplates the pain that their crimes have caused in others.
  • Such a perspective would convince a user that their addiction is their fault.

They can act as the initial causation of the likes of drug and alcohol abuse. Once those emotions have been experienced, substance abuse is seen as an escape, as a way to personally cope through negative emotions. Yet, this is where the danger of an addiction starts, to cope on an ongoing basis through previous behaviours. There are many damaging and negative stereotypes out there about people recovering with addiction, but I won’t mention any of them here.