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. In the majority of those cases, shameful or guilty behaviours can be excused. However, for an addict, shame and guilt can stand as much more; as motivators, as depressants, as fuel.
Guilt is commonly a feeling which is linked to empathy. If we’ve said or done something which we can later see as wrong, we will feel guilty, with the attempt to rebuild those bridges. Yet, shame can hit much deeper, known as a “self-conscious emotion”, where self-worth can reduce, where disappointment is engulfing.
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. They can be linked to previous behaviours, tough to overturn. Guilt and shame can also be linked to current reality, making impending steps, challenging to face.
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 differently, and forgive yourself for the future.
See the role of shame and guilt in addiction recovery, along with how to overcome both with our support at Action Rehab.
Shame, Guilt and Their Effects
Have you ever felt guilty for something you’ve done? If so, it’s likely that you’ve put yourself in the shoes of others, that you feel empathetic through guilt. Guilt is commonly an emotion which can be overcome, once an apologetic favour has been transmitted.
On the other end of the scale, have you ever felt shameful for something you’ve done, where you cannot forgive yourself? If so, it’s likely that your view of yourself has changed, that you’ve tried to run away from problems in shame. Shame is a much harder emotion to overcome, now linked to mental health issues, addiction diagnosis, and irrational behaviours. While guilt is in relation to your behaviours, shame is linked to you as a person, making it a painful feeling to continuously experience.
Both shame and guilt carry unique effects for each individual. Differing coping strategies will be used to overcome them. Yet, for addicts, shame and guilt, in general, are difficult emotions, fuelling the ongoing cycle of addiction.
How Guilt and Shame Influence Addiction
Both shame and guilt can influence an addiction from the offset. 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.
Yet, the most damaging correlation between shame, guilt and addiction is the part they can play once your habitual behaviour has presented itself. Those who live with an addiction will likely act in ways, which as sober, would be avoided, would be frowned upon. Irresponsible behaviour, illegal activity, selfishness and disinterest in relationships and career responsibilities are common behaviours linked to addiction.
Through those shifts in behaviour, guilt and shame will present themselves, where the latter can be difficult to get over. Here is where the cycle will continue, where drugs or alcohol, or further addictive stimuli will be used as self-help, as a form of self-medication.
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 exactly why breaking free from addiction and shame are vital. Here’s the role of shame and guilt in addiction recovery, along with how to process shame and regret of addiction; necessary to recover.
The role of shame and guilt in addiction recovery and beyond
Living with the feelings of shame and guilt can be very challenging when going through the motions of addiction. Yet, they can be even harder when experiencing addiction recovery efforts. In order to recover, individuals must let go, they must aim to forgive their addiction.
While this can be difficult to initially complete, healing from previous behaviours, controlled by addictive stimuli is a must. Without overcoming shame and guilt, there is a high probability that addiction diagnoses will remain, that your emotions will continue to fuel your behaviours.
For some, the role of shame and guilt in addiction recovery can motivate greater susceptibility to professional support. It can help addicts crave change. However, for others, shame and guilt can be deeply ingrained emotions, linked to behaviour, linked to a lack of control, and linked to negative perceptions of oneself and their actions. This can hinder addiction recovery if enabled, if left to the backburner.
Understanding how to process shame and regret via addiction recovery is critical. Guilt, shame and depression in clients in recovery from addiction is also common, requiring support for a dual diagnosis. Without these steps, addicts will struggle to forgive and forget, and will find it hard to benefit from long-term addiction recovery.
Overcoming Shame and Guilt, Ready For Addiction Recovery
Breaking away from shame and guilt, ready for effective addiction recovery is recommended. While it is a big step to take, emotionally, it is necessary to help you focus and appreciate impending rehabilitation steps.
Start to overcome shame and guilt by:
– Understanding your shame
Understanding your emotions is very important. 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. Seeing shame and guilt as counterproductive emotions will progress your healing.
– Accept your past
Accepting yourself is very important, especially to overcome the unworthiness of shame. Again, you are human. You cannot strive for perfection. By understanding that mistakes are made, and that the importance is that you work to fix those mistakes, shame can begin to subsidies.
– Forgive yourself
Forgiving yourself and asking for forgiveness from others will help to heal the emotions of shame and guilt. While this can take some time, while professional intervention may be required, it’s important that you work on your mental health state and your view on self-worth.
By completing these steps, you can use the role of shame and guilt in addiction recovery as a motivator, rather than fuel to the fire. Addiction recovery is very important for your future. Ensure you are in the right mindset for this by overcoming shame and guilt linked to an uncontrolled moment or experience.
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.