Guilt and Shame in Addiction
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug-seeking despite the fact that the continued use of drugs causes harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain. For instance, those that smoke on a daily basis and exhibit risky behavior while drinking has been shown to have a lot less interpersonal guilt than their peers that do not regularly use substances. Nonetheless, guilt and shame in recovery is a major topic.
If you or a loved one are ready to enter recovery, do not hesitate. Call 614-502-6247 today. Experts at Recovery Hope Treatment are here to help you overcome any shame or guilt you may feel with your addiction. Call today and let us help you turn your life around for the better.
Guilt, Shame, and Addiction
These two emotions of guilt and shame in addiction are very similar, but not the same. The emotion of guilt is when you feel bad for something that you have done, or for failing to fulfill a commitment. Now, shame is a bit more complex than guilt: it begins with guilt, but also involves internalizing that guilty feeling. You have done bad things, and you feel guilty because they were bad, but you also begin to believe that because you did them, you are bad.
Having the ability to differentiate between these two emotions is essential because the feelings change your behaviors and reactions. For example, guilt typically makes you want to apologize or to fix what you did wrong. Still, shame influences your actions to become self-destructive and causes thoughts that can be negative and or self-deprecating. If you live in your guilt, you will most likely end up feeling shameful. When you allow yourself to get caught up in feelings of guilt and shame in addiction, you can begin to feel like you deserve it. You will usually end up punishing yourself for things that you may have done during your addiction. Punishing yourself for what is a disorder isn’t going to do you any good. Thus, dealing with guilt and shame in recovery is vital. There are a few things you can do that will help you.
- Realize that the feelings of guilt and shame in recovery are counterproductive. We are our own worst critics, so it is easy to be too critical of yourself or the things you have done.
- Ask for forgiveness. We all make mistakes. Choosing to change your life and fight your addiction is a very brave decision. Part of recovery means making amends with those that have been wronged. This includes asking for their forgiveness. You will at least be able to say that you did your best to make amends.
- Let go of what you are not able to control. You can really only control yourself. There are several outside factors that are beyond your control and you cannot alter or change the past. Holding onto your guilt and shame from the things you may have done before won’t help you in recovery. In fact, these feelings often end up being relapse triggers. Thus, letting go of things from your past is a huge step towards your recovery.
- Forgive yourself. Learning how to forgive yourself takes a long time and is a very long process. Dwelling on things that have happened in the past is not going to be beneficial to you.
Do you need help coping with your addiction? Call our experts today. We are standing by ready to provide you with the support that you need. We will help you figure out the best treatment option for you. Call today and we will help you cope with any problems you may be having.
Stigma is a disgrace or mark that is associated with a specific circumstance, quality, or person. The stigma that causes shame and guilt associated with substance use often prevents people from seeking professional help. When shame and guilt in addiction are combined, it can become very difficult to admit to others or ourselves that we are suffering from a health condition that causes our use of drugs and excessive drinking. We feel the same way when admitting it to our friends and family members.
Our family members often also believe that their behavior may have caused their loved ones to begin abusing drugs or alcohol. As much as we feel shame for using, our family members also feel shame because just as we blame ourselves for the addiction, they blame themselves as well. It is typically a very long cycle of shame and blame until we find the right kind of help.
Stigma in Addiction
Some people believe that addiction and alcoholism are moral problems rather than diseases or health conditions. This makes the stigma associated with the disease that much worse. It is difficult for families and people that are dependent on a substance to stop feeling guilt and shame in recovery. It may well be impossible until they understand that addiction is a physical, emotional, spiritual, and social disease.
People must change their behavior and attitudes to recover from any disease. Recovery from certain chronic diseases, of which addiction is one, require a lifetime of maintenance. Furthermore, most chronic diseases, from addiction to less stigmatized ones like diabetes, involve the possibility of a relapse.
If someone who suffers from diabetes eats sweets, then he might be said to be having a “relapse” just like an addict would if they were to pick up their drug of choice once again. But, there is a stigma associated with addiction that simply isn’t present with diabetes. To explain, a family wouldn’t get upset when a diabetic “relapses,” but they do when an addict relapses because of the stigma attached to it. If there is little core difference between these two chronic diseases, one is moved to ask: why does a family get upset when an addict relapses versus a diabetic?
Do you know someone going through a stigma addiction? Are you struggling with stigma addiction? Then call us today. We have tools that can assist you in finding the right treatment for you. Talk to our professionals today, and start your road to recovery tomorrow.
Stigma is made by a large number of people making or agreeing to a judgment that specific behaviors are bad or morally wrong. Thus, people that suffer from diseases that have a stigma attached feel more guilt and shame about their disease.
When a person is feeling guilty or shameful, they tend not to reach out for help or to other friends or family members that could help. Typically they will not reach out until it is too painful for them to keep to themselves. If this goes on for long enough, then it could become too late. Usually, when an addict is having these feelings they also think that the only thing that will make them feel better is using more drugs. And so to relieve their feelings, they use their substance of choice, and so the cycle continues. This is also at the root of the power of guilt as a relapse trigger.
Until the addicts themselves, as well as their families and significant others, accept that addiction is a treatable disease, then there will most likely not be a solution found.
The Disease of Loneliness
Addiction is known as a disease of loneliness. All humans are social beings: we want to be social and to be involved in different relationships. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol in order to deal with the emotion of loneliness. And it is indeed a painful emotion to deal with sometimes. But, addiction can be a lonely disease that often leads to more isolation. Loneliness and addiction can thus create a cycle that becomes difficult to break. You may feel lonely at first, and then you will participate in addictive behavior or substance abuse to get rid of that lonely feeling. Then you may alienate your loved ones with your addiction and feel more lonely still. The cycle is difficult to break.
There are some things you can do to help get over the lonely feeling during your recovery journey.
- Spending quality time with friends and family
- Showing up for your recovery meetings and support groups
- Communicating with your family and close friends so they understand your situation and recovery process completely
- Creating a strong support network to support you through this recovery
- Getting to know the difference between loneliness and solitude
- Doing things out and about that will increase your human interaction
Loneliness is a motivational drive, similar to your body’s natural physical need for food and sleep. This is why when you get rejected it can make a part in your brain cause you to feel physical discomfort. If you feel as though your desire for belonging is not met, then the feeling of loneliness if a very normal reaction. Loneliness is a state of mind that anyone and everyone can and does experience.
Are you feeling isolated and alone? Are you facing addiction alone and don’t know what to do? You should call us as soon as possible. Our experts can give you the support that you need to overcome these feelings and your addiction. It is never too late to start over, call today.
Loneliness Causes an Increase in Substance Abuse
Drugs and alcoholism usually go hand in hand with loneliness, which means that those who experience these feelings of loneliness often have a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. Those that struggle with loneliness also often use substances as a substitute for healthy personal relationships. You may choose to:
- Continue to drink and use drugs even though it may cause a strain on your relationships.
- Continue to drink and use drugs even though it may cause damage to your physical and mental health.
- You may ignore your social life and work, hoping to find another high or to stay away from the pain of withdrawal symptoms.
- You may cut off communication with your loved ones, in order to devote more time and energy to looking for other ways to get the next high.
As you begin to see these behaviors or actively participate in them, you will become lonelier, which will most likely cause any substance abuse to increase. Because of this never-ending cycle, alcohol and drug use become chronic; in other words, they turn into a full-blown addiction. As we said earlier, addiction is a chronic disease that explains this. When this chronic cycle begins, you may feel the urge to participate in worse behaviors than what you have done before. Thus, it will further affect your physical, social, and mental well-being.
In conclusion, when your feeling of loneliness increases it can cause other negative behaviors and attitudes. This gives them a chance to grow which causes you to sink deeper into addiction. Loneliness is not uncommon during addiction or during addiction recovery. Guilt and shame in recovery are even more common. This is why it is very important to be aware of your behavior and attitude. When recovery finally begins, you can stay ahead and recruit your family and close friends to help you. The goal is to break the painful cycle of addiction and create a new path to recovery. For help with this, reach out to our professionals today.
Written by Alexis Miller