Combating the Guilt and the Shame of Addiction

November 7, 2022

Sober living

Managing shame and guilt during addiction recovery can be a challenging task. However, alternative therapies like Yoga and Exercise have proven to be useful tools in helping individuals cope with these emotions. As we reflect on the power of mindfulness as a tool for healing shame and guilt during addiction recovery, it’s worth noting that these practices have a rich cultural history dating back centuries. In fact, many ancient eastern philosophies tout the benefits of mindfulness meditation for promoting physical health, mental wellness and spiritual growth. Developing a strong support system is crucial when it comes to coping with shame and guilt during addiction recovery.

If a similar situation arises in the future, you will know what action to take. During my time in active addiction, I had to learn to deal with the feeling of guilt and shame for what my life had become. I had become a manipulator of my own emotions and would often do whatever it took to obtain my alcohol to satisfy my addictive thought patterns and behaviors. Shame and addiction often go hand-in-hand, but shame can also be one of the best motivators for addiction recovery. The shame for not living up to the idealized version of themselves and engaging in such behaviors can serve the same purpose as guilt in the recovery process.

Guilt and shame in addiction recovery: 10 activities to help cope

Joining a 12-Step Program provides individuals with access to peers who have overcome similar struggles thus creating an empathetic environment providing comfort when needed. In addition to gaining accountability partners within such groups that significantly help sustain commitment towards recovery goals. These groups offer peer mentoring relationships where each member encourages and strengthens the other based on shared experience battling addictions.

  • 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.
  • If these emotions coincide with mental health symptoms, a person is more likely to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Ensure you are in the right mindset for this by overcoming shame and guilt linked to an uncontrolled moment or experience.
  • Over time, the client develops new coping mechanisms and gains confidence in handling difficult emotions.
  • Talk to other people and find out how they would handle the situation.

DBT for shame and guilt often involves group therapy sessions where clients practice applying DBT skills in role-plays and other experiential exercises. The therapist also provides individual coaching between sessions to support clients in using these skills in real-life situations. Self-compassion involves treating oneself with understanding and care, just as one would treat a close friend who is suffering.

Why People Feel Guilt in Recovery

Keep in mind that as you progress through therapy, shame and guilt can actually intensify, as you’ll be exploring behaviors you may now regret. A strong support network is another essential component when dealing with negative emotions during addiction recovery. This network can include family members who provide emotional support, as well as professional groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous that offer understanding companionship. This type of support can take many different forms, including one-on-one therapy sessions or group counseling. It provides a safe space for individuals to talk about their experiences openly and get guidance on how to navigate the complex emotions and challenges that come with addiction recovery.

shame and guilt in substance abuse recovery

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.

Addiction and Recovery Educational Blog

However, this evolutionary mechanism can become problematic when it leads individuals to feel ashamed for seeking help or vulnerability. Irrational thoughts and beliefs can fuel shame and inappropriate guilt. These untruths can perpetuate negative feelings we have about ourselves. Take a look at these statements, and check your own beliefs regarding them. Some turn to perfectionism, trying to ensure that everything they do is without fault and above reproach.

shame and guilt in substance abuse recovery

The self-punishment you endure when you dwell in feelings of guilt and shame can lead to a downward spiral of negative thinking. This type of thought process is isolating and unproductive, and it will not end unless you put an end to it. While many victims of trauma may suffer immense shame, which in turn, may drive them to consume drugs or alcohol, many addicts can begin to feel shame over their consumption of drugs or alcohol.

Overcoming shame and guilt are imperative if you are suffering from addiction. By enabling both emotions, the churn of addictive behaviours will continue. Yet, healing from shame and guilt can motivate greater addiction recovery, help you see things guilt and shame in recovery differently, and forgive yourself for the future. Both shame and guilt are common emotions experienced by the average person, sometimes on an average day. They are usually linked to negative behaviours, to moments where a reversible clock is craved.

shame and guilt in substance abuse recovery

When you are surrounded by a supportive network of people, it becomes easier to share your struggles and receive empathy and encouragement in return. This sense of belongingness makes it easier for individuals to come out of their shells and break out of the cycle of self-blame and guilt that often accompanies addiction. It’s important to note that while shame can be damaging, it also has an evolutionary purpose. Feeling ashamed of immoral or unethical behavior helps us conform to social norms and maintain social order.

It’s normal and appropriate to feel guilty when you have done something wrong. If you have hurt someone, done something that goes against your personal values, or have done something you promised you’d never do again, guilt is the appropriate response. For support with addiction recovery, reach out to our team at Action Rehab.

A dual diagnosis approach can be instrumental in addressing these self-destructive, negative feelings while simultaneously tackling substance abuse. Confronting shame and guilt is a pivotal part of the journey toward overcoming addiction. These emotions, deeply embedded within an individual’s psyche, often pose significant challenges to successful recovery.