These might be family members, long-time friends or other people working to stay sober and live a life in recovery. What’s important to remember is that these are completely normal feelings in reaction to a complex, chronic disease. The best route forward is to learn what aspects of these feelings are useful and which ones are better left behind. The fear of rejection or abandonment can exacerbate a person’s sense of shame. When a person knows you will accept them regardless of their past, shame can begin to dissipate.

What is the role of shame in addiction recovery?

Shame and guilt can influence a person's decision to start using or restart using substances. Shame and guilt are related to other mental health conditions like depression. By reducing shame and guilt, a person can lessen their risk of relapse.

Guilt is an appropriate response to these revelations, but should not be clung to once apologies and amends are made. Any user will try to keep their addiction hidden. However, people battling shame will find that hiding an addiction becomes another reason to feel shame. Medical professionals now agree that addiction is a disease. But many still accept the traditional explanation that drug use is a result of moral weakness.

Bringing Real Change

However, after you have absorbed the lesson, you need to release these thoughts, or they will stand in the way of your recovery. Guilt is feeling bad about something you’ve done, or haven’t done. For example, you might feel guilty about the hurtful words you spoke to your wife when you were drunk, or about forgetting to pick up your child from school when you were high. Individual therapy can serve as a safe space for divulging information and sharing thoughts and feelings that you may feel uncomfortable sharing in a group setting. Your therapist can help you uncover what might be causing your feelings of shame and guilt and help you find ways to resolve them.

  • Sometimes counseling can help a person get to the bottom of feelings of guilt and shame even beneath the drug addiction.
  • Learning about the disease of addiction can help you let go of shame.
  • It is not a substitute for clinical treatment or individualized therapeutic services.
  • Such humor and the laughter that greets it are never aimed at others as objects, but at the contradictions within self illumined by the human experience described.
  • Embracing this logic for years and decades will form a certain type of mind.
  • So now, the tormented mind must battle their mental disorder plus addiction.

These are two of the best resources for parents. And I really want to recommend this to any parent or family member that’s viewing this, what Dr. McCauley talks about. He also is not only a physician, but knows addiction from the inside, and has committed to recovery for years and years, he’s made a huge amount of difference in the recovery world only to his story. And we’ll see that that’s not maybe as as simple as it sounds, because it’s not to say that people aren’t responsible. If active addiction has the highest amount of stigma, it’s the bottom rung on the ladder in terms of disorders. If I’m in recovery, what does that imply or indicate Well, it indicates I was addicted, not a good thing.

Understanding Shame

And if you’re in recovery, you still have that scar. I know this firsthand, all into my own history of addiction and recovery, that to get into support groups, such as 12-step support groups or other resources. One of the reliefs there is that there’s no stigma there, there’s no judgment ideally, and most of the time, there isn’t.

  • Then he will command his private self to conform to the public one.
  • He stepped on my foot and looks like like it’s no big deal.
  • So those are some of the personal or the physical signs of shame that come up.
  • At one time, no one ever mentioned the word “cancer.” It was a medical condition that wasn’t discussed.

Got very involved in both and was Secretary of both meetings, etc. It was in refuge recovery, that I learned a practice that is rooted in eastern traditions, and gets picked up for sure in western traditions, and I’ve followed it ever since then. There was, I think it was sometimes it’s kind of a supplement for me, I got also involved. Shame, however, goes a step further than guilt. While guilt is acknowledging and feeling bad that you did something you shouldn’t have, shame is internalizing guilt and believing that you, yourself are bad because of the bad things you’ve done.

Understanding the Difference Between Guilt and Shame

As long as an addict refuses to accept guilt, their addiction will endure. Even if their addiction makes them lose their job, lose their kids or crash their car, as long as they don’t think that they have done anything wrong, and have accepted guilt, they will continue to abuse. Violence, aggression as well as eating disorders are common causes of shame.

It encompasses feelings of worthlessness, self-contempt, inadequacy, and feeling downright bad about yourself. Shame relates to our behaviors or self and other people’s opinions of us, not necessarily about a specific behavior or event. When you feel guilty, you may feel remorseful or responsible for something you’ve done wrong or something you’ve perceived you’ve done wrong.

But if a parent can understand that in a shame cycle, it’s what I call situational sociopathy. All I mean by that is that your son or daughter isn’t a sociopath. A sociopath is somebody that can hurt somebody and not care. But you step outside of those rooms, and it’s a whole different world.

the 12 step of guilt and shame in addiction recovery

They don’t know what else to do, so they resort to the “blame and shame” strategy to try to get a reaction. While it might seem like feeling guilty all the time could help motivate you to stay sober, the truth is that when you dwell in these dark feelings, you could be setting yourself up guilt and shame in recovery for a relapse. Group therapy can also be very beneficial when it comes to overcoming shame and guilt. In therapy groups, you are among people who can relate to what you are going through. Groups offer the opportunity to connect and learn from others who can identify with your experiences.

Laughter and Support Motivate Change

There should never be a time when an addict is not getting at least periodic recovery check-ups. The specialists at our BHOPB detox and addiction treatment center also believe that using the word “outcome” can be misleading. Now is when addiction is being recognized and treated as a chronic disease, which wasn’t the case in the past. The first publication created by Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches (BHOPB)’s Research Department was an outcome study published in 2006.

  • This being the case, it is essential to recognize and address these feelings as you enter treatment.
  • These emotions will naturally emerge as you progress through therapy, exploring the behaviors you may now regret.
  • Though making the phone calls was painstaking and tedious, it was at times very rewarding.
  • Reach out to Gateway today to receive help from a place and team you can trust.

If you don’t feel very good about yourself and are looking for a way to take those feelings away (at least for a time), you may be drawn to drugs or alcohol. After that, you need residential addiction treatment with intensive therapy to help process your feelings in a safe setting, and thereby give you the tools needed to prevent relapse. Our addiction treatment center meets all of these needs, in an intimate, rustic setting. The next step toward coping with and letting go of your shame and guilt is to forgive yourself.

Until the system of addicts, families, and significant others accept that it is a treatable condition, there will likely be no solution. A barrage of emotion comes flooding to the surface after being suppressed over years of chemical dependence and numbing. This flood of feelings often arrives alongside clarity surrounding old patterns of behavior. Understanding and confronting the shame and guilt you experience in addiction is a critical part of recovery. Dwelling on it and sitting in those toxic emotions only sets you up for a relapse. At Sandstone Care, our team of highly trained and passionate professionals is dedicated to helping teens and young adults to realize their full potential.