Dealing With Guilt & Shame in Recovery

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. 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.

It doesn’t matter how you get
it or who you hurt in the process. All you can think about is getting your drug
of choice. You feel compelled to meet your addiction’s needs no matter what the


Substance abuse is one way people achieve this, even if it’s for just a short time. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, asking your higher power for comfort, compassion and forgiveness can be a powerful step in forgiving yourself. This may be as simple as praying to God to forgive you for your sins, or it may involve a more structured gesture.

People suffering from mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia or trauma, will consume drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of the disorder. After a while however, the user discovers that drug addiction makes the mental disorder much worse. So now, the tormented mind must battle their mental disorder plus addiction. Shame and guilt are so powerful, because they cause a person to experience distress on account of their own actions or words. When someone wrestles with jealousy or disdain or irritation or loathing, the emotions involve someone or something else. It is natural for a human to castigate blame on this foreign entity.

Individualized, evidence based treatment, to fit your needs.

And people will oftentimes talk about this around shame. They, their their stomach hurts, they get acid, they have other digestive problems, etc. Now, this ties into your question about what I do as somebody who’s in recovery. What can I do to support my child who’s in recovery? One of the biggest pieces of recovery is how to deal with this thing that we’re talking about today, which is a shame. So if we can develop a practice, and I’ve been practicing it daily, I did it this morning, I did it while I swim.

  • I’ll tell you what, I’ll go back to the example with you and me, Clint, if I accidentally step on your foot, let’s I’m just gonna use that as the example.
  • I want to quote the psychiatrist Carl Jung, he said, he was talking to me more in general, but let’s tie it into addiction.
  • Irresponsible behaviour, illegal activity, selfishness and disinterest in relationships and career responsibilities are common behaviours linked to addiction.

If you were abused as a child and then repeated the cycle of abuse with your own children, it is vital that you gain some self-understanding. Understanding that the trauma(s) you experienced created problems within you that were out of your control can go a long way toward forgiving yourself for the ways that you have hurt others. At Synergy Recovery, we can help you develop a deeper understanding of your feelings and learn how you can improve your self-worth.

Why You’re Experiencing Guilt & Shame

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. Shame and guilt are parts of addiction and recovery that are quite common but can be repaired with time and work. If one dwells in these feelings though, the creation of self-doubt can lead to furthering relapse or causing it to reoccur. It is important to try to become more self-aware of your feelings and work on them. An apology can remove the cloak of shame that even the most remorseful person carries around.

guilt and shame in recovery

They may feel as if they’re undeserving of help and will attempt to hide the truth from their loved ones. The stigma and fear of how others will view them can prevent a person from reaching out to a medical professional for treatment or being truthful about their addiction. It’s essential to distinguish between these emotions because they can inform our future actions and provide motivation for change and self-improvement.

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