The two emotions that come up again and again for someone in recovery are guilt and shame. If they’re not dealt with properly, they can hinder progress towards becoming a healthy and sober person. In the last post, we talked about the importance of dealing with these emotions in an addiction treatment program. Now let’s see how these feelings can hurt someone in recovery.
The definition of guilt in simple terms is the bad feeling you get when you’ve done something wrong. Shame is how you feel about yourself because of what you did. They may be related to the same event, but most often a deep sense of shame develops over time. A person may make mistakes repeatedly and begin to have an overall feeling of shame about himself that isn’t directed at one particular action. He may feel like a bad person and feel hopeless about his situation.
Guilt and shame can lead a person to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, and that’s where the cycle begins. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol can lead to an addiction problem, which may lead to other behaviors that cause guilt, which lead to feelings of shame. That brings us right back to where they started. The cycle needs to be broken in recovery or it can hurt the treatment process and make it more likely for someone to relapse.
The pattern of negative thinking due to guilt and shame will filter through into other aspects of life and can affect relationships and careers. It’s easy to get into the habit of seeing the negative in everything, which can affect how you treat people and how well you do your job.
Someone in recovery who hasn’t dealt with his feelings of guilt and shame probably still has issues with self-esteem and negative thinking. Feeling guilty all the time wears on you after a while and you start to think of yourself as someone who isn’t worthy of happiness. It can lead to depression and anxiety.
A major part of recovery is having a support system, but if someone holds the belief that he is a bad person, it can make it difficult to accept help from family and friends. Someone struggling with guilt and shame may think he doesn’t deserve help.
Many people who have deep seated feelings of guilt and shame don’t want to let go of them because they feel it’s their punishment for past transgressions. Recognizing the mistakes they’ve made and asking for forgiveness can be a step toward letting go of the negative feelings. Everyone messes up and everyone deserves to have a second chance. If someone in recovery doesn’t understand that, he will continue to beat himself up over the past.
Someone in recovery who is still dealing with feelings of guilt and shame are less likely to reach out for more help after completing a treatment program, so the chance of relapse is greater. It’s important that these feelings are fully explored during treatment so that they won’t resurface later.
Next up in this series, we’ll learn how to cope with guilt and shame in recovery.
Top Substance Abuse Treatment Centers in Raleigh NC | Legacy Freedom
If you’re considering getting treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, call the top substance abuse treatment centers in Raleigh NC, Legacy Freedom. There’s no reason to be afraid to get help. Our caring admissions counselors can answer any question you may have. We offer many alternative therapies designed to help you get the specialized treatment you need. Call us today to discuss your options. We want to be a part of your recovery from addiction.