Everyone who has gone through addiction witnesses how much it hurts. Undoubtedly, addiction hurts the person who has it. But, it also hurts the people around that individual. It breaks up families and ruins relationships. It destroys self-confidence and wreaks havoc in all other areas of life. After all the wreckage, it’s easy to feel guilty during recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. But, you don’t have to let shame and addiction recovery go hand-in-hand. You can live your life free of guilt.

Shame vs. Guilt: What’s the Difference?

Waking up After the Storm: Dealing with Shame and AddictionDid you know that there’s a difference between guilt and shame? It seems like people usually use these terms simultaneously. But, they aren’t the same at all. However, they both are common feelings which can stem from addiction.

When people feel guilt, it means that they regret the choices they’ve made. Guilt is a remorseful feeling. But, it is also a responsible feeling. People who feel guilty about something will do what it takes to make things right. Guilt isn’t necessarily a good thing, though. It can cause people to feel an unhealthy amount of regret for things they can’t control. It may also make them feel terrible even after they’ve done everything they could do to make amends. Feeling guilt is saying, “I’ve done something totally wrong. I’ve made a bad choice.”

Shame, on the other hand, is a feeling of humiliation. It’s total embarrassment and distress. When a person feels shame, he or she will become isolated. Instead of fixing things, like people do when they feel guilty, people who are ashamed hide. They run away from the problem. This isn’t because of cowardice. Shame just tends to make people feel like they are too far gone. So, they resort to escaping the situation. Having shame is the same as saying, “I’ve done something wrong. And, I’m a bad person for doing that.”

See the difference? Unfortunately, shame and guilt are common and unhealthy parts of addiction and recovery. They promote self-doubt and can lead to the process of relapse. So, as you go through treatment for addiction or life after treatment, it’s important try to identify and work on these feelings.

How To Deal with Shame

Shame and addiction aren’t a good mix. In fact, shame fuels addiction. It’s what causes people to feed their addiction. When people feel ashamed, they seek a way out. They want to escape the feelings that they have. So, they often turn to something that will help them get away from reality for a while. Substance abuse and addiction are ways in which people can escape themselves, even if for only a few hours at a time.

Shame and recovery are equally as dangerous. It will only hold people back from bettering themselves. And, hinder individuals from staying motivated about their recovery journey. Individuals will always feel that they are bad and deserve the pain of addiction as long as shame is present. But, once they are free from that, they can move on to the wonderful life recovery has to offer. Here are some ways to say “goodbye” to shame and “hello” to freedom:

Remember that no one is perfect. Not your neighbor or you uncle or your sweet grandmother. Everyone has flaws and everyone has made a big mistake or two. So, don’t expect anything more of yourself; you aren’t perfect. But, you’re working on bettering yourself and that’s what’s important.

  • Speak and think positively. You are special and important. And, you will get past the shame of your past.
  • Forgive yourself. Let others forgive you. It’s the way to healing and rebirth.
  • Don’t punish yourself. Make things right. Hold yourself responsible for your choices. But, don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Look ahead, not in the rearview mirror! There’s so much more life ahead of you, so, keep going!

Let’s Fight Shame and Addiction Together

‘Here at Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services, we are dedicated to seeing people live healthy lives, free from addiction and the negative emotions that comes with it. Do you want to start living your best life, away from shame and addiction? Contact us today! We’ll fight the battle together.